Final Dismissals Issued as Nearly 700 Chantix Cases Settle

An agreement to settle one of the first groups of Chantix lawsuits has been finalized, resulting in the dismissal of nearly 700 claims filed against Pfizer over the drug maker’s alleged failure to adequately warn about the psychological side effects of the smoking cessation drug.  

In March 2013, Pfizer announced that Chantix settlement agreements had been reached in a vast majority of the more than 2,500 cases filed nationwide on behalf of users who committed suicide, attempted suicide or suffered other unusually aggressive behavior after using the prescription medication to help them stop smoking.

According to a stipulation (PDF) filed July 18, a groups of plaintiffs have finalized their settlements and agreed to the dismissal of their cases with prejudice. However, the specific terms of the agreements have still not been revealed.

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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, a few years after the drug was introduced and heralded as a potential blockbuster medication, reports began to surface of users committing suicide or engaging in sudden, unusual behavior.

In June 2009, the FDA added a “black box” warning about the risk of psychological problems with Chantix, and Pfizer was ordered to conduct additional clinical trials to provide more data on how often neuropsychiatric symptoms and suicide with Chantix occur and what conditions cause them.

In the federal court system, the Chantix litigation has been consolidated as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which is centralized before U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson in the Northern District of Alabama. While a total of more than 3,000 lawsuits have been part of the Chantix MDL at one time, the number of active cases has remained around 2,500 since the first settlement agreements were first announced late last year, when two Chantix cases settled shortly before the first trials were set to begin.

On March 1, Pfizer disclosed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that agreements had been reached with plaintiffs in about 80% of the known Chantix cases in the United States, with at a reported cost of nearly $300 million. This recent dismissal appears to be the first of that group to finalize the settlement agreements.

In late March, Judge Johnson ordered mediation for all un-resolved Chantix cases. At this time, it remains unclear how many lawsuits may remain unsettled.

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  • nealAugust 14, 2015 at 3:14 am

    Chantix should be banned!

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