The British Government has released data confirming that users of Champix, the European version of the stop-smoking drug known as Chantix in the United States, have been reporting a number of adverse reactions associated with the drug, including suicides and suicidal thoughts.
Chantix and Champix, which are both manufactured by Pfizer, Inc., contain the pharmaceutical ingredient varenicline tartrate, which blocks brain receptors that are normally stimulated by nicotine. The drug is designed to lessen the pleasure effects of nicotine and help users quit smoking.
In the United States, Chantix has been associated with a number of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects, including an increased risk of suicide, suicide attempts and unusual behavior. A number of users have also report developing new-onset diabetes after taking the drug and suffering seizures and blackouts, which could result in serious accidents or injury.
Concerns about Chantix suicide side effects first started to emerge in November 2007, when the FDA issued an “Early Communication” about an on-going investigation into at least 39 reports of Chantix suicides and nearly 500 reports of suicidal thoughts and behavior involving the drug in the United States.
Since that time, the FDA has required Pfizer to add a “black box” warning about the psychological side effects of Chantix, and many users who took their own life or suffered severe physical injuries as a result of a suicide attempt are filing Chantix lawsuits against Pfizer for failing to previously warn about the risk associated with the drug.
According to figures from the British government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), at least 24 deaths have been linked to the use of Champix in Europe, including 10 suicides. In addition, 213 people have reported suicidal thoughts and 407 reported suffering from depression while on the drug.
Recent reports released by the independent researchers at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices have found that between May 2006 and December 2007, the FDA received 227 reports of suicide or suicide attempts in the United States, with an additional 226 suicides or self-injury reports in the first quarter of 2008.