The popular anti-smoking drug Chantix® has resulted in incidents of suicide, depression, aggressive behavior, & loss of consciousness in a growing number of patients who have taken the drug.
What’s the problem?
Chantix (varenicline) was approved by the FDA in 2006 as a prescription treatment to help people quit smoking. The drug works by blocking receptors in the brain that are commonly stimulated by nicotine, reducing the positive feelings that come from cigarettes. However, reports of suicide with Chantix began to surface shortly after it was introduced, and the drug has been linked to depression, suicidal thoughts, and other abnormal behavior.
On November 20, 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began reviewing reports of suicidal behavior submitted to the administration by the drug maker, Pfizer, as well as instances of other side effects associated with Chantix.
In February 2008, the FDA issued an alert highlighting important changes made to the Chantix warning label about potential psychiatric side effects, including severe changes in mood and behavior, as well as information about suicides and suicide attempts. The FDA indicated that their review of data indicates it is “increasingly likely that there may be an association between Chantix and serious neuropsychiatric symptoms.”
Between May 2006 and December 2007, the FDA received the following serious adverse event reports associated with the use of Chantix:
- 227 reports of suicidal acts, thoughts, or behavior
- 397 cases of possible psychosis
- 525 reports of hostility or aggression
Dozens of Chantix suicide lawsuits and other injury claims have been filed against Pfizer in various state and federal courts throughout the United States. The complaints allege that Pfizer, who excluded individuals with depression or a history of mental illness from many clinical trials, failed to adequately research the adverse effects of their drug before marketing it heavily as an easy solution to help people stop smoking.