Chantix Class Action Lawsuit in Canada Alleges Pfizer Hid Suicide Risk

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By: Staff Writers | Published: March 17th, 2010

A class action lawsuit has been filed in Canada by three women from British Columbia who say that Pfizer did not give enough warning about the suicidal tendencies caused by the smoking cessation drug Champix, which is sold as Chantix in the United States.

The Chantix class action lawsuit was filed in British Columbia Supreme Court last month. The plaintiffs, Patricia Clow, Nicole McIvor and Alicia Pickering, say that Pfizer was required to give patients and doctors more warning regarding the severity of the psychological side effects of the stop-smoking drug.

Clow alleges that her 22-year old daughter committed suicide in October after taking Champix/Chantix. McIvor claims that the drug caused her to become so suicidal that she tried to ram her car into an oncoming logging truck. Pickering says she became so depressed and suicidal while taking the drug that she required hospitalization.

Chantix (varenicline) was approved in the United States by the FDA in 2006 as a prescription medication to help people quit smoking. The drug works by reducing the positive feelings that come from cigarettes, blocking the receptors in the brain commonly stimulated by nicotine. However, the drug has been linked to increased risks of suicide and suicide attempts, aggressive behavioral changes and other psychiatric problems, which have resulted in fatal or catastrophic injuries for many users.

The FDA has received hundreds of adverse event reports involving Chantix problems, leading to a “black box” warning being added to the medication in June 2009 about the potential psychological side effects. Pfizer has also been required to conduct clinical trials providing more data on how often neuropsychiatric symptoms with Chantix occur and what conditions cause them.

In October 2009, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all federal lawsuits over Chantix in the United States. Dozens of similar cases are centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, and Chantix lawyers are continuing to investigate hundreds of other potential cases that are expected to be filed in the coming months.

The Canadian Chantix class action suit claims that Pfizer put profits ahead of public safety. Under Canadian law, if the plaintiffs prove Pfizer was negligent, participants in the class action could be awarded Pfizer’s Canadian profits from the drug, which has been prescribed to 1.5 million Canadians since 2007.

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There Are 36 Comments So Far • (Add Your Comments)

  1. I have been taking Champix off and on for the last three years and the only side affects for me are feeling nausiated briefly (5 – 10 mins) after taking the medication. I now take the pill with food and this decreases the sick feeling. Other than that side affect, I find this medication is working well for me. I have 2 more days left and am confident I will not be smoking.

  2. I took Champix in Jan. 2008 to quit smoking. I was on Champix for approx. 3 weeks. After the first week I saw the doc and told her I was upset with everything and I had even thought about killing my dog. The doc said not to worry and told me to keep taking the pill. In the next 2 weeks I would wake up in the morning and take a shower, thinking about how I could kill myself. My husband was with me almost every minute of the day and he didn’t have a clue I was suicidal. Finally after 3 weeks of hell I went to the docs and threw the pills at her. I said “I don’t know what’s in these pills but I am not taking them anymore. She asked what side effects I had and I told her I wanted to kill myself. No where on the packaging did it say suicidal was a side effect. The doc listed about 10 side effects that I had and so I stopped taking Champix. The depression did not go away and I have been on anti depressents ever since.

  3. My doctor recommended Champix for smoking cessation and I took the drug for approx. 7 months in 2007/08. Long story short – I began an emotional downhill slide that started with with depression, anxiety, panic attacks and culminated in suicidal plans that frightened me so badly I wound up in the hospital. This is a very dangerous drug.

  4. I am on champix now for the 9th day and I can’t believe the pain in my upper back and neck I am experiencing. I am feeling depressed already as well and trouble sleeping which was an issue before because of my having MS. I can’t believe my doctor would prescribe this when she knows my medical history I am going of this I can’t stand the pain I am experiencing. Even the pharmacist when I asked about side affects said Oh I don’t know of anyone to have any….What a lie that is after I got checking on my symptoms online today I see many experiencing the severe joint pain and other symptoms….Right on health Canada yet another drug being put on the market that is unsafe and canadian citizens being used as guinea pigs…I think every one in the government should be forced to take these new meds they claim to be safe and see what it is like.

  5. What Pfizer didn’t say is how the drug works: if you kill yourself, you’ll never light a cigarette again.

  6. It is very sad to see these desperate comments by deeply unhappy souls reaching out and totally unaware of their own power. I wonder why so many people continue to consult doctors and willingly take risky drugs to treat the state of their mental condition? Especially after all the evidence of suicide ideation related to these kinds of drugs. There are so many amazing alternatives out there and way better solutions like doing what Earl Nightingale says in The Strangest Secret {youtube} or Michael J Duckett or Robert Smith who does Tapping {also on Youtube}. Time to cut the cord to all the indoctrinating stuff like TV, movies and music that is PLANTING THOUGHTS AND IDEAS IN YOU MIND…when you don’t even know it. Even the doctors are brainwashed and programmed. Can’t you see it is designed to manipulate all of you to keep the business generating billions of dollars? Just CUT the cord once and for all and take charge of your own mind. Stop following the crowd. It isn’t easy because it requires a constant vigil of your thought patterns. And the effort of thinking with NEW patterns that you must put in with practice and effort. I pray at least one person can wake up after reading what I wrote. Everything can be found on youtube. Watch The Strangest Secret 3o days in a row and three times a day. That is the only ‘pill’ you need. Do what he says and be free at last. Always monitor what you allow into your inner mind and heart. Empower yourself with QUALITY and AWARENESS…this will serve you and everyone around you. You don’t need a doctor to put yourself on a regime. If you do, you are simply giving your power away. Wake up to your greatness and be a blessing to the world. Go do it now. This is the place and now is the time. Go do it now. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. You don’t need Pfizer. Peel the scales from your eyes and good luck. It is up to you and you alone, then you will be exempt from blaming and complaining. Take heed for your own sake and thank you for listening.

  7. A few months ago I attended the very sad memorial service for a friend who had committed suicide. It didn’t make any sense because he was a guy who seemed happy and together, not at all depressed. At the service one of his coworkers discovered he had been taking some sort of prescription anti-smoking drug where one of the side effects was suicidal tendencies. I’m not sure which drug it was, but there can’t be that many on the market. RIP HB

  8. When Pfizer was doing trials with this drug, one of their test subjects committed suicide so they have known for quite some time, the way it affects certain people. When doctors write a prescription for Champix/Chantix, they have no idea who it will help and who it will hurt or kill. It’s Russian Roulette.

  9. I have been on chantix for 17 days now and i have been puking all day every day since i started taking it. As of last night, i now have abdominal pain and i have been blacking out. at least i am not smoking anymore now

  10. champix made me suicidal within 4 days, started fantasizing about hanging myself in our shed and drove around in my car hysterically crying and was thinking of driving into semi trucks. i came home told my family i was done with them all i grabbed a suitcase and luckily i went to my sisters house she knew how bad off i was so i knew something was wrong with me but the drug makes the urges and thoughts so strong to do harm to yourself. we went to the hospital and stayed in until the drug wore off. 3 days. guess what i left and didnt feel the least bit suicidal. hmmm bad bad drug,

  11. From August to December I took champix started having acid in my stomach all the time so I kept eating. Next thing my husband would come home from work if he so much as breathed too loud boy did I let him know it, I could fly into a rage in seconds, he started thinking there was something wrong with him. I was mean to my dogs 11lbs between the 3 of them I had to get them out of the room to protect them. My mind started racing at night, I was overtired and some days I just sit and cry, pain in my feet and ankles had me sitting on the couch for 6 weeks. I have my second kidney transplant now, twice on dialysis over 7.5 years and that was a breeze compared to this. Antidepressants, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety pills I have a good day to 2 or 3 bad days. I always had health problems but never mental health it’s so much harder to handle, I would have never chosen this.

  12. I’ve taken champix on and off for the last 6 months. My wife has told me that taking champix has turned me into Mr hyde. I was always upset about something, home or at work. My mood changed quite often during the day and i took everything to literally. Everyone at work would stay away because I was always to upset about something.

  13. Over two years ago,my Daughter took this drug for about 3 weeks. Yes she quit smoking (for about 4 months). But then became very depressed (she was never like that before), tried committing suicide, luckily she was saved, but has been on anti-depressints ever since so much so she has missed two years of her life. This drug is Poison for some people: DO NOT RISK taking it.

  14. Long story short…took two scripts between Oct. ’06 – Oct. ’07. Two hospital stays in ’08.

    Jan. ’08 – - taken by ambulance in middle of nite w/horrific chest pains, mindblowing headache, and stomach spasms so strong, they felt like contractions. Extreme shortness of breath. Stayed 7 days, received oxygen, morphine, antibiotics. Released w/diagnosis – - possible virus.

    May ’08 – - took long drive to rural area after having a great day at work…found a closed, used car parking lot, parked on angle to blend in…wrote short note, “it’s been real”…downed 240 sleeping pills and cut self up w/mini-diabetic razors…woke up six days later surrounded by devastated family members…when being taken off ventilator. They wanted answers…I had none. What the…??

    Could remember that for many months prior…was beyond exhausted, hated my husband of 37 years, had dreams, VIVID dreams, of deceased loved ones coming to my room at nite, happy, healthy..bragging how AWESOME heaven is…and wanting me to go with them!! Assured me my job was done here!! … I listened….

    It’s been 2 1/2 years….hurts like yesterday. This drug distorts your mind. You think differently…feel defeated…and flat! Not sad, mad, glad…but FLAT. Nothing can penetrate the thickness of this heavy, heavy feeling. To live seems silly. To deal w/life’s ups/downs…seemed funny to me!! Chantix is sneaky….powerful….and ALL CONSUMING. It will own you…there is no way out once it is in your system. Only God knows how/where you’ll land…

  15. I had a terrible reaction to Champix. I did not know the source for months, but I became suicidal, went to the mental health hospital, used the crisis hotlines, and was taken by the police to the hospital for evaluation. I screwed up my life, my family, my finances and my friends. I very much want Pfizer to take this drug off the market and make right the damages it has caused so many.

  16. I became obsessive, angry, and suicidal, and almost killed myself and my partner. I was not warned of it’s side affects at all, by either of the 2 subscribing doctors. I quit smoking though……………

  17. I have been on Darvocet for atleast 6 or 7 years and at no time have I felt suicidal or angry. I take it for pain in my back that I had pre and post surgery. It is the lowest form of it’s classification and does help to take the edge off of the pain and allow me to do my day to day functions without being messed up or feel drugged. Now I don’t know what I will do since this medication seems to work and is fairly cheap since I don’t have insurance to pay for my medication. I would encourage everyone to read the information that you are given with the possible side affects so you can’t say that you DIDN’T KNOW!! Ingnorance is not bliss it just screws shit up for the rest of us who know how to read and do research.

  18. My 40 year old daughter was put onto Champix by her family doctor when she wanted to give up smoking. After a short time – 3 or so weeks – she became violent, severely depressed, had suicidal ideas etc. All the side effects that is associalted with this drug. Her doctor said the only side effects were nausea and perhaps she might vomit. That’s all. My daughter is the mother of four – one child is downs syndrome. She now is in a psychiatric facility being treated. The physical damage she has done to her home (Which was her pride and joy before the taking of Cmapix) is horrendous. Holes in walls, destroyed furniture, destructed above ground swimming pool is just the start. I want to know if the pyschiatric effects of Champix is permanent. My daughter has never had any psychiatric illness in her entire life. Also is there any class action being taken against Pfizer regarding Champix here in Australia? Beware the “wonder drug. It has now most certainly wrecked a beautiful mother’s life.

  19. I was on the medication Champex 4 times over the period of a year, and had some serious issues crop up. Extraordinary changes in my personality with an increase in obsessive compulsive behavior, anger issues and 2 suicide attempts. One where I almost killed my partner as well. Fortunately I fell with the canister of helium injuring myself. My neighbors wife heard me retching, and sent her husband (Reverend T. Seacord) over to see what was wrong. He took the helium away and thankfully all was well. I called the Hospital and spoke to my medicine adviser and told her I thought I was having A psychotic break. She told me to stop the champex, but I already had 2 months before. I am not an angry or suicidal person. The lawyer I spoke to in the States said they accept complaints up to 8 months after discontinuing the drug as the effects are ongoing
    I’ve found out all sorts of bad stuff from friends and the internet about this drug. Are there any class action suits in Canada about this drug.
    I have lost my home and car, my family, and some of my friends, my personality changed that much, and I lay the blame squarley at the foot of champex and the doctors that prescribed it.

  20. Above (Oct. ’6, 10) is my story….and every word is true. I cannot put into words the POWER this drug has. It’s a SLOW, sneaky, THOROUGH drug. Once it’s in your system your thoughts, temperment, dreams, etc…are no longer your own. You can’t stop the process once it begins. It’s a scary…unnerving…experience. When I say, “only God knows how/where you’ll land…” I’m telling the truth.

    I did NOT take this drug w/hopes of having horrid side effects and taking an early retirement on Pfizer. Nor did the others. Good intentions, excitement, relief, etc…were what I felt going into it. I pray daily for my vindication. My life/world as I knew it…have been turned upside down.

  21. I took Champix in 2008 for 3 weeks,my moods changed almost right away and got worse with each passing day angry,depression,nightmares. I became a miserable pr**k.My girlfriend gave me an altimatum either I stop the drug or she was leaving till I did.A co worker told me he could not believe i was the same person he had worked with for 5 years.2 years later I still feel angry and depression and struggle to get what was a happy sucessful life back on track STAY AWAY

  22. I tried chantix three(3) different times . I had the same side effects everyone eles claimed, the angry, depression ,mood swings and very bad nightmares. But now I have developed sever acid reflux which I have never had in my life also sever ear and throat problems.

  23. My son took champix just when he was 18 years and 2 months old in July 2008 and within one week he had some unusual dreams and feelings and within one month he was psychotic. He stopped smoking within that period but started again when he became psychotic. He is still having the effects of this even after about two years and 6 months and is hospitalized in December 2010. He became depressed and was wondering anybody has these psychiatric effects even after stopping the medication. I was also wondering whether any class action suit law suit was initiated in Ontario. I DO NOT WANT ANYBODY TO GO THROUGH WHAT MY SON AND FAMILY HAS GONE THROUGH.

  24. it’s time to “man up” Pfizer. So many innocents have suffered at the hands of big pharma. Now that Chantix’ side effects are coming to light and the inexplicable events/happenings in people’s lives can NOW be explained…your greed is coming back to bite you in the a _ s!

  25. I also had an adverse reaction to this drug and it caused me great harm

  26. my first attempt @ Champix, was 3 years ago, took them faithfully for 9 weeks of the 12 week regime, first 2 weeks, they worked very well, WITH EXCEPTION, that i wanted to kill everyone that “looked sideways at me” …… meanwhile the whole week 3-6 plotting how to get away with killing people, and/or myself, …. i was EVIL walking, couldn’t talk to me, couldn’t look at me, heaven forbid you spoke to me, i had torn strips off of complete strangers & family members alike, …… @ week 9 …. it ALL came inward onto me, and ALL i wanted to do, was die !!!! ……. needless to say, i immediately stopped taking them, ……. 3 years later, i find myself smoking again, and started taking them again, into week 3, the pills are ONLY causing me to have the same homicidal/suicidal thoughts …… switched Doctors, told her my results, she stopped the script, and has offered Zyban to try …..

  27. I have suffered major symptoms from Champix and to date cannot seem to get rid of them even after stopping the medication. Can anyone tell me their experieince as far as did they finally go away? What things can I try? Is there a doctor in BC that might admit the Champix is causing problems and help us with some solutions to try? I have been hearing nothing but horror story after horror story about the Champix. We are all going through the same thing but I am not seeing any solutions. Please any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

  28. I have been taking champix for 7 weeks and the rest of the prescription is going into the garbage! My symptoms have included insomnia, mood swings, fits of crying, avoiding people (family, friends and co-workers), restless legs syndrome, gained weight (i was overweight to begin with), and a general dislike of myself. I thought that i could manage through these symptoms because quitting smoking was very important to me. I had quit cold turkey from 2000-2005 when a moment of weakness and a series of family tradgedies started me up again. I feel confident that with 7 weeks under my belt and alot more will power now that i am done smoking and i hope that my family and friends can forgive my irrational behaviour.

  29. I took Champix for about three weeks when I realized I had become very unreasonable towards everybody and everything. I was not only depressed, I had severe abdominal pain and headaches that my doctor said would pass, it was normal. I stopped taking the drug and the depression and abdominal pain/headaches slowly disappeared taking about 4 to 9 months.

    Anyone thinking about taking this drug, please reconsider. It is very dangerous.

  30. I took champex for 13 days.during this time i went several times to the doc and told him i was suicidal and breaking down crying in front of him.His solution was divan and Cipralex a anti anxiety.A couple of weeks went by i lost my job because i was emotionally unstable. Champex and the mess of the other prescribed drugs helped me decide to try to end my life.I swallowed my bottle of ativan 60 tabs and that night was committed to the mental institution.I stopped taking all pills never to trust a doctor again.I’m Still jobless still struggling with depression and the fact of all that happened.How many people need to take there lives before this evil drug is pulled?

  31. it’s TIME, Pfizer/FDA…a Chantix recall is WAY overdue!!

  32. I’m sorry to read all the bad things about Champix. I’ve been taking it for 8 weeks with No side effects what so ever. I don’t smoke any more and very happy about that. I cross country ski almost everyday, bike, run walk. I feel great and the last thing in my mind is to kill myself or anybody else, I have to much fun being a none smoker.

    Maybe you should all change doctor. Its clearly stated that this products should not be taken by someone with anxiety, suicidal or other mental issues.
    However, I don’t think that my comment will be posted since this blog is about a potential law suit.

  33. wow…Robert!! YAY for you!! I’m truly happy you did not have a bad experience w/Chantix! I was hoping for the same outcome!! Guess everybody’s different!

    For me, Chantix DID touch on my smoking receptors…and DID make smoking a chore…and had it STOPPED there…I, TOO, would be singing Chantix’ praises. But, it didn’t…it snaked it’s way throughout my brain…depositing seeds of evil…totally distorting and twisting my thoughts, actions, dreams, reflexes…it was a long, slow, process…but THOROUGH…and scary. Very, VERY scary. This was a journey I NEVER want to go on again. Learned the hard way…no one has your back. NO one.

  34. Burlington, ON, Canada
    My brother started taking the stop-smoking drug called Champix/Chantix (varenicline) July 2012. He was perfectly healthy prior to taking the drug because his family physician did a complete physical examination prior to putting him on the drug. He was not on any other medications, he had no medical conditions prior to taking Chantix, and he has never had any surgeries or the like. When taking Chantix he experienced the most common side effect being nausea as well as some irritability but then he began to experience some more severe side effects including a swollen tongue, trouble breathing, mouth ulcerations, sore & itchy skin (but not a rash), droopy eye (this is better now), electrical static shock feeling in his chest and back, balance problems, dizziness, blurred vision (sees trails), fatigue, lost sense of taste, muscle spasms, and constipation. He stopped taking the drug as soon as these severe symptoms began to appear at approximately 3 weeks and doctors gave him steroids to counteract the “allergic reactions”. It has been almost 7 weeks since he stopped taking the drug and his tongue is no longer swollen but his entire jaw, mouth, and part of his neck are very painful. It feels as though his muscles are constantly contracted (tense). The muscle spasms cause him to drop things and bite down on is tongue which has caused painful sores on his tongue. He is unable to eat (going on 7 weeks) because he cannot chew or properly swallow. He can only consume liquids and even that is tough. He often chokes on his saliva because it goes down his wind pipe instead of his esophagus. He seems to be getting worse and the doctors do not know how to treat him. They think it is neurological and it is very coincidental that he got this sick immediately after taking Chantix. We are hoping someone out there can shed some light on this and maybe we can get him the proper medical care before it causes irreparable damage (if not already).

  35. I view the comments with great interest. Although I read the instructions and the possible side effects I chose to start treatment. Thus far I reduced to zip during the fourth day and stopped on the 8th. I am now into my 6th week and doing well to which I have not had this sucess on any other programe. The side effects that I spoke of were the diaherra(gas), and tiredness. I went for my check up with my phyiscian on month after starting and will complete the program in 6 weeks more. Although I understand that not everyone is the same, it seems to be working for me

  36. i haved the same side effect after 2 month.. depression etc.. since i take effexor.. i cant stop him since i take champix.. champix have changed my life.. im not the same since i take this pill..

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