Blue Review
A Provider Publication

October 2021

Coverage Replacement for Smoking Cessation Product CHANTIX® Due to Voluntary Recall

Drug manufacturer Pfizer has issued a voluntary recall of its CHANTIX smoking cessation product. To help alleviate a shortage of these products, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is temporarily covering Apo-Varenicline (varenicline tartrate) 0.5 mg and 1 mg tablets. The coverage was effective as of Aug. 10, 2021. It doesn’t apply to members in our Medicaid or Medicare Advantage plans

About the Chantix recall: The recall is due to higher than acceptable levels of N-nitroso-varenicline, an impurity that may be linked to an increased risk of cancer. As of Sept. 16, 2021, the recall was expanded to all lots of 0.5 mg tablets and 1 mg tablets. Learn more from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

What this means for you: Consider contacting our members who may be taking CHANTIX to discuss other treatment options. We will notify affected members, and you may also receive a notification. Our members may also be alerted to this recall notice by their pharmacy.

The FDA advises individuals taking the recalled Chantix to continue to do so until their doctor, health care professional or pharmacist provides a replacement. No immediate risk to those taking CHANTIX has been found because it’s meant for short-term use. The health benefits of stopping smoking outweigh the cancer risk from the impurity, according to the FDA.

Benefits and coverage: Members’ cost share for Apo-Varenicline is based on their benefit plan and is the same as their cost share for Chantix. Some members’ plans also have coverage under a preventive health benefit, which offers lower or no cost share to encourage adherence.

If you have questions about a member’s pharmacy benefits, call the number on the member’s ID card.