Friday, June 11, 2010

Don’t Take Chantix Until You Read This

Another attempt at making excessive profits at the expense of the vulnerable is at hand with the drug Chantix. I have reported on this drug and their ridiculous advertisement where they showed the success with those using the drug was only a few percentage points above those who did not use the drug. The drug company responsible promptly changed their advertisement to show a higher percentage of success after additional time on the drug.

Remember, the drug companies have only one group they are beholden to and that is their investors. It is not the people who trust their doctors and take a new drug when it is prescribed. We would all like to assume that the drug companies and the doctors and the medical boards have our best interest in mind but they obviously do not.

The FDA began reviewing the drug’s safety in 2007 after hundreds of reports were received detailing unpredictable behavior including excessive aggressiveness and suicide. Between May 2006 and December 2007 the FDA received 227 reports of suicidal acts, thoughts or behaviors, 397 cases of phychosis and 525 reports of excessive aggression. Sadly, these included 28 cases of suicide.

While many of these reports showed patients experiencing multiple adverse side effects, the most serious were never mentioned in the advertisements for the drug. During the last quarter of 2007 varenicline, the active ingredient in Chantix, was shown responsible for 988 serious injuries according to the FDA.

When it is all said and done it is important to recognize that research revealed that only 1 in 5 patients actually benefit from this drug. This means 80% do not benefit and their doctors are still willing to put them at risk for suicide and excessive aggressiveness reported to the FDA beginning nearly three years ago.

The FDA’s response so far was ordering Pfizer, the manufacturer of Chantix, to include a strong “black box” warning on the drug to highlight these serious side effects. Pfizer claims there has not been a direct link established between phychiatric problems and Chantix in clinical trials. The FDA did issue a warning to healthcare professionals alerting them to potential suicidal and homicidal thoughts and actions among those being prescribed Chantix. Pfizer continues to advertise this drug and fails to mention these dangers in their advertisements where they mention considerably less severe potential side effects.

In January of 2008, The Healthier Life web site outlined some of the side effects of this drug. In the two years since publishing thousands have commented on the negative side effects they have experienced from taking it. I cut and pasted these comments into a Word file which totaled over 205 full pages.

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