Reports of Psychotic Violence on Anti-Smoking Drug Chantix Pile Up But Pfizer Isn’t Seeing Them

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Pfizer (PFE)’s anti-smoking drug Chantix (sold as Champix in some countries) is looking increasingly vulnerable to litigation or further limits to its marketing in light of a new study that looks at episodes of psychotic violence associated with the drug. Part of the problem is that in 2008, Pfizer chief medical officer Joseph Feczko said the company was continuing to study the drug. Two years later, studies and anecdotal evidence are continuing to turn up problems that go beyond suicidal thoughts generated in some patients. And yet researchers linked to Pfizer haven’t published any significant psychological issues generated by the drug.

The FDA added a black box warning to Chantix in 2009, but that only covered suicidal harm not harm toward others. A study in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy covers just 26 cases of “inexplicable and unprovoked” violence linked to Chantix. It’s anecdotal and thus not statistically significant, but it still makes disturbing reading:

A woman struck her 17-year-old daughter in the mouth while the daughter was driving a car, with a young granddaughter also present (case 19). A 42-year-old man punched a stranger at a bowling alley (case 3). The stranger and 2 friends responded and knocked out the subject’s front teeth. A 24-year-old female started beating her boyfriend in bed because he “looked so peaceful” and she later attempted suicide (case 1). A 29-year-old female struck an acquaintance twice in the face, and then started smashing doors in her own home and beating on her truck (case 21). The actual or intended victims of aggression/violence were anyone who happened to be nearby.

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