Can you buy generic Champix (varenicline)?


Not yet. Champix is the only brand name of the drug varenicline currently available in the UK or the EU. Champix was patented in 2006, and remains under patent until September 2021 in the UK/EU – in the USA it is patented until 2020 under the brand name of Chantix, so a generic cannot be legally sold until the patent expires.

The active medical ingredient in Champix is called varenicline. Varenicline is the generic name of the product.

Champix is prescription-only medicine.

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Champix tablets are an effective treatment to help people stop smoking. You are twice as likely to stop smoking with Champix compared to people taking dummy pills (placebo), according to the clinical trials data.

A huge amount of support is now  available to help you stop smoking. Stopping smoking is the very best thing you can do to improve your health. 

Visit NHS Stop Smoking Services – you are four times more likely to quit if you seek support from a Stop Smoking service. 

Champix is recommended by the National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE), and by The Cochrane Collaboration.

I have seen generic Champix advertised online – is it safe to buy?

The answer to this is No! Champix is still under patent, so selling generic Champix is illegal. If you see adverts for generic Champix, this means you are being offered a ‘falsified medicine’ – a counterfeit/fake.

A falsified medicine has not been tested by the Medicines and Health Regulation Agency (MRHA) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Falsified medicines may:

  • contain ingredients of low quality or in the wrong doses;
  • be deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to their identity or source;
  • have fake packaging, the wrong ingredients, or low levels of the active ingredients.

What are the risks of buying generic Champix?

If you take a fake medicine, you have no guarantee what is in it,  how it might affect you,  and if it will be effective.

The dangers of buying medicines online have also been highlighted by NHS online.

You may find the following facts disturbing –

Interpol have highlighted the risk of buying medicines over the internet. They point out that fake medicines “often contain the wrong level of active ingredient – too little, too much or none at all.”

Fake medicines are often expertly packaged. The consumer would have no way of knowing what they were taking. The only way to know what is in a medicine, is to have them properly tested in a laboratory.

Some fake medicines have been found to contain toxic substances such as rat poison, antifreeze, floor wax, brick dust, and commercial wall paint.

Sometimes the drug which arrives, is actually not the drug you asked for. In some cases, the drug supplied does not contain the active ingredient you requested at all.

In a coordinated operation in 2018, Interpol carried out raids in 116 countries including the UK and Europe. As a result they seized more than one million doses of fake medicines, worth over £2 million. As a result of their activities, 123 illegal pharmacies were shut down and 535 online adverts removed.