Chantix Litigation Centralized in MDL in Northern District of Alabama

  • Written by: AboutLawsuits

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has ordered that all federal Chantix lawsuits will be consolidated and centralized for pretrial litigation in the Northern District of Alabama.

According to an order issued October 1, 2009, there are currently 37 product liability suits over Chantix pending in 16 different federal districts throughout the United States. Following a hearing last month, the panel determined that all of the cases involve sufficiently similar questions of fact to justify consolidation into an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

The Chantix litigation involves allegations that Pfizer failed to adequately warn about the risk of Chantix side effects, including a risk of suicide, suicidal thoughts, depression, seizures, memory loss and other mental or physical problems.

All 37 of the Chantix cases will be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, where they will be assigned to U.S. District Judge Inge P. Johnson for coordinated pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent rulings on discovery and other issues and conserve the resources of the parties, lawyers and the court.

Chantix (varenicline) was approved 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 side effects, 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 to warn consumers and the medical community 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.

Individuals who have filed a Chantix lawsuit against Pfizer allege that the drug maker failed to adequately test the drug and attempted to minimize the risk.

The judicial panel rejected efforts by Pfizer to have the lawsuits centralized in New York, saying that a clear majority of plaintiffs (25) favored centralizing the cases in Alabama, and Judge Johnson was already overseeing three of the cases. The panel also noted that none of the 16 districts where a Chantix suit was pending worked as a clear geographic focal point for the cases.

Now that the MDL has been formed, it is expected that Chantix lawyers may file hundreds of new cases in the coming months, which will also be transferred to Judge Johnson in the Northern District of Alabama for coordinated handling. Following pretrial proceedings, if the cases do not settle or otherwise resolve, the individual lawsuits may be returned back to the districts where they were filed for trials.

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  1. terri Reply

    I am a 54 year old happily married wife, mother, and na na to six beautiful grandchildren. Love my job of 22 years and happy to be alive!! 2008 was not a good year for me.

    January ’08 – taken by ambulance w/heart attack symptoms, hospitalized a week, underwent every test possible. Written off as a possible virus.

    May ’08 – drove out to rural area, downed 240 sleeping pills and slashed wrists and arms with little diabetic razors. Woke up six days later in ICU, surrounded by family, on ventilator and given last rites. Spent time in psyche unit.

    Why did I do this??? I have noooo idea!! I was smoking 4 to 6 cigarettes a day and wanted to put tobacco to rest. Instead, I was almost laid to rest. Lost all credibility with family, friends, and co-workers. Have endured intense therapy for past 18 months.

    Please…I pray, Pfizer is found guilty of passing out a drug that is in my words…”a lobotomy by mouth….”

  2. J. Wellbaum Reply

    Terri- I am SO sorry to read of what a catastrophic year 2008 was for you. You are not alone. I too was prescribed Chantix and soon after was experiencing full psychosis (hallucinations, erratic behavior, etc.). I was picked up by the police on several occassions and placed in several locked psychiatric facilities for observation and treatment. I lost all of my retirement (several well-functioning rental properties) in foreclosure, lost my dogs and was evicted from my apartment. I was found wondering the streets and the parks homeless. Oh, and I almost forgot, not one member of my family ever attempted to visit me or to help me to put my life back together. I have several times this year found life to be not worth living and have attempted suicide. Suffering from the adverse effects of prescription drugs is somewhat like being hit by a train, only the drug companies are insulated by teams of lawyers and it is almost impossible to hold these corporations accountable. I emplore you to keep your head held high and put one foot in front of the other and keep the faith that Pfizer will be (finally) brought to its knees over the course of this litigation. Thanks for being courageous and sharing your story.

  3. Inna Reply

    I was a happily 54 married woman w/ two children and was a smoker for 20 years…I finally decided to quit smoking. My Dr. prescribed a regiman of Chantix…after one month, I found myself feeling extremely depressed. I was constantly crying every where and any where. I cry every day @ work, and I can’t seem to get over it. It had effected every aspect of my life, work, home, family, friends!!! My Dr. had to put me on anti-depressants and it’s still not working.

  4. nancy Reply

    I to was a victim of chantix! I had a great husband, job, and respect from family and friends. A few months later while taking chantix, I lost it all. My freedom for a time, my husband (who couldn’t handle the thought of me trying suiside yet again, after 2 attemp’s) and thats not to mention the out of control gambeling and drinking and mood’s that were just out of control. I had no idea it was Chantix doing these things to me. I even locked myself us in a psyc hospital because i couldnt figure me out! They released me with an apointment to see a counslor in 45 days. I didn’t last 45 days, I lasted 2 weeks before my 1st attempt, even then the Doctors still didn’t put 2 and 2 together, then the 2nd attempt and a few weeks locked up. If it wasn’t for god holding on to me, it would have been my life not my freedom! Now i live with a diagnosis I know is not true, B.P.D. so now I have no husband, a police record (from making bad decissions in the course of taking Chantix)! a devistating psyco tag of B.P.D., and was ordered out of wisconsin by the courts (an agreement made to drop all charges of my arrest’s), ended up filing bankruptsy, and moving back with my parents at age 46.! I made this statement short compaired to the actual events that took controll of my life!! Oh and get this, after my attemp a suisides (in aug. 2007) I still wanted to quit smoking so in january 2008 I got another perscription for Chantix from my Doctor. Its a good thing the courts ordered me out of Wisconsin or I might be dead now. When I moved here to Arkansas a friend of mine told me about the side affects Chantix has. He recieved littature from the VA hospital regarding it because he was taking it and stoped when he recieved the lititure. Now that I found that out, you bet your bootie I called a lawyer. I sure hope Doctors are well aware of these side affects, I was diagnosed with seasonal depression before being perscribed Chantix, I wonder if I didn’t have the depression already if Chantix would have affected me in such a negative way??? Never no I supose. !!!!

  5. caroline Reply

    I am looking for an patients association victims of chantix / champix in belgium .
    Since 2008, when I took champix, I had and I still have a lort of neurological disorders. My life has totally change and i’d like to find an association.
    Could you help me please?

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