July 10, 2008 – Yesterday as the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs was holding a hearing on why veterans were being given the “suicide-inducing drug” Chantix, an Alabama attorney was busy filing the first product liability lawsuit against Chantix maker, Pfizer. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Linda Collins, now a widow after her husband, David Collins, committed suicide while taking Chantix. In February, the FDA updated the label of the drug to warn patients that Chantix had been linked to serious nueropsychaitric events, suicidal thoughts, and suicide. The lawsuit claims that Pfizer failed to properly warn patients of the possible psychiatric side effects of Chantix.
In May the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned the use of Chantix for Pilots and air traffic controllers citing concerns for passenger safety. Shortly thereafter the Federal Motor Carrier Saftey Adminstration banned Chantix use for 18-wheeler and other commercial vehicle drivers for concerns over highway safety.
Chantix went on sale in 2006 and sales rose briskly, totaling $883 million for 2007. But prescription volume has been hurt by the safety concerns. About 7.5 million people worldwide have taken Chantix since its approval in 2006, Pfizer said.
In a written statement, Pfizer acknowledged that they were aware that the case had been filed but had not yet been served with a copy. The pharmaceutical giant maintains that Chantix is a safe and effective treatment option for smoking cessation.
The fact is that Chantix does work very well for many people; however, for some the drug can cause serious and potentially deadly side effects that Pfizer should have know about. It is the responsibility of drug manufactures to ensure that their medications are safe for public use and when these multi-billion dollar corporations fail to adequately inspect the safety of their extremely profitable medications, they must be held responsible for their actions.