Chantix® is a medication that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking. When you quit smoking, the lower levels of dopamine and other chemicals in the brain cause the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Also known by its generic name varenicline, Chantix® combats these withdrawal symptoms by stimulating the release of low levels of dopamine and other brain chemicals. In addition, this drug blocks the brain’s nicotine receptors, so cigarettes that smokers have in the future do not have the same enjoyable effect which helps prevent a smoking relapse.
But despite easing nicotine withdrawal, Chantix® has been blamed for a number of adverse side effects including suicidal thoughts, aggressive behavior, and mood disorders. These reactions can be especially damaging for individuals who are trying to quit smoking and are dealing with anxiety, irritability and cravings.
If you have experienced behavior changes including suicidal tendencies, or if your loved one has committed suicide while taking Chantix® you may have a claim and should talk to a Chantix® injury attorney to review your options.
Reports of Suicide and Suicidal Tendencies
In 2008, the FDA revealed that it had received various reports from Chantix® users throughout the United States. As of July 2009, the FDA had received reports of 98 Chantix®-related suicides and 188 attempted suicides. The Administration also received more than 420 reports of suicidal behaviors and thoughts.
Additionally, the drug manufacturer Pfizer failed to properly warn physicians along with consumers about the increased risk of suicide associated with this medication. This resulted in injuries and deaths that could have been prevented, if sufficient warnings were issued.
As a result, Chantix® was required by the FDA to add a “black box warning,” the strongest warning the FDA can issue. This warning includes the risks such as changes in mood, hostility, agitation, depression and suicidal thoughts. The FDA has also ordered Pfizer to begin a clinical trial that focuses on the safety of the drug, which is scheduled to conclude in 2017.
Other Side Effects of Chantix®
Aside from suicidal tendencies, Chantix® poses other risks to uses, such as:
- Blackouts, seizures, and vision problems
- Sudden and abnormally-aggressive behavior
- The development of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (two potentially life-threatening skin conditions)
- New on-set diabetes
- Increased risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems in patients with cardiovascular disease