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Day 29 of Our 31 Day Series of How Medicine Got It Wrong

The Rise and Fall of Chantix: A Look at the Risks and Recall of Pfizer's Smoking Cessation Drug



Chantix, also known as Varenicline, was a prescription medication developed by Pfizer to help people quit smoking. While it was initially successful in helping many individuals quit smoking, it was soon linked to a number of concerning side effects, including violent and aggressive behavior, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

In 2008, a study published in the American Journal of Health found a significant association between Chantix and violent and aggressive behavior in individuals taking the medication. The study included nearly 5,000 adverse event reports, including serious incidents such as physical assaults, accidents, and suicides. These side effects led to a nationwide recall of Chantix, with some healthcare professionals hesitant to prescribe it to their patients.

Despite the recall, some healthcare professionals still prescribe Chantix, arguing that it is still a valuable tool for individuals who are serious about quitting smoking, and that the benefits may outweigh the risks. However, in 2021, Pfizer announced that it would be discontinuing the production of Chantix due to declining sales and ongoing concerns about its safety.

The decision to discontinue Chantix comes after years of controversy and legal action surrounding the medication. In 2012, Pfizer settled a lawsuit with a group of plaintiffs who claimed that the company failed to warn them about the potential side effects of Chantix, including suicidal thoughts and behavior. The settlement was reported to be in the amount of $273 million.

In conclusion, while Chantix was initially a promising tool for individuals looking to quit smoking, it ultimately proved to be too risky for many. The medication was linked to a number of concerning side effects, including violent and aggressive behavior, depression, and suicidal thoughts, leading to a nationwide recall and eventually, the discontinuation of its production. If you are looking to quit smoking, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider about all of your options and the potential risks and benefits of each.


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References

  1. AboutLawsuits. (2009, November 20). Chantix Violence, Aggressive Behavior Linked in Study. Retrieved from https://www.aboutlawsuits.com/chantix-violence-aggressive-behavior-linked-in-study-11649/

  2. GoodRx. (n.d.). Chantix Side Effects. Retrieved from https://www.goodrx.com/varenicline/chantix-side-effects

  3. Verywell Mind. (2021, May 25). What Are the Side Effects of Chantix? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/chantix-side-effects-2825341

  4. BuzzRX. (2021, August 10). Is Chantix Safe Again After the Nationwide Recall? Retrieved from https://www.buzzrx.com/blog/is-chantix-safe-again-after-the-nationwide-recall

  5. RxList. (2021, February 25). Chantix Side Effects: Common, Severe, Long Term. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/chantix-side-effects-drug-center.htm

  6. National Center for Health Research. (n.d.). Drugs to Quit Smoking Can Affect Your Mental and Physical Health: The Truth About Chantix and Zyban. Retrieved from https://www.center4research.org/drugs-quit-smoking-can-affect-mental-physical-health-truth-chantix-zyban/#:~:text=continued%20to%20smoke.-,CHANTIX%3A,treatment%20or%20after%20stopping%20CHANTIX.

  7. Moore, T. J., Furberg, C. D., & Glenmullen, J. (2008). Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence towards Others. PLoS ONE, 3(5), e2470. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0002470

  8. Boozalis, M. E., Radnovich, A. J., & Mehta, N. (2022). Varenicline and violent and aggressive behavior: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 22(1), 81. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-022-04348-6

  9. The Blackberry Center. (2022, January 13). The Hidden Effects of Chantix and Alcohol on Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.theblackberrycenter.com/hidden-effects-of-chantix-and-alcohol-on-mental-health/

  10. Legal Examiner. (2021, July 7). Voluntary Recall of Smoking Cessation Drug Chantix. Retrieved from https://www.legalexaminer.com/health/fda-prescription-drugs/voluntary-recall-of-smoking-cessation-drug-chantix/



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