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Chantix: Suicidal Thoughts From Someone Who Was There

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New York, NYSmoking is not the easiest habit to break. It can cause irritability in the best of us, as we try to wean our bodies of addictive nicotine. But suicide? That's what one consumer experienced with Chantix, the so-called smoking cessation wonder drug that was proven in clinical trials to be more effective than Zyban.

Today, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating more than 100 complaints from patients of [Chantix] who have experienced suicidal thoughts.

Some have even taken those thoughts one-step further, and made the attempt.

Amy Garza is one such Chantix client. Smoking since the age of 16, Amy recently told CBS News correspondent Thalia Assuras that she had tried just about anything and everything out there, to rid her body of the demon nicotine. Nothing seemed to work.

Chantix Suicide AttemptThen her doctor prescribed Chantix, which is made by Pfizer and has been on the market since 2006. When first introduced, consumers and health care professionals—even the FDA itself—were bullish on the prospects of a product that went right to the brain to get the job done. Specifically, Chantix targets specific receptors in the brain that produce the pleasure-laden dopamine, as a result of stimulation from nicotine. Chantix works to block access to these receptors by the nicotine cocktail found in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Thus, the nicotine calm (some say euphoria) inherent with smoking a cigarette is mitigated and, so it seems, withdrawal symptoms are reduced.

Results from clinical trials were encouraging. After a year, 23 per cent of Chantix users had succeeded in quitting smoking, versus 15 per cent of smoking cessation clients using Zyban, the closest rival to Chantix and the only other smoking cessation med available in pill form. Expectations were high when it was introduced in 2006.

Despite all of that, Garza tried to kill herself. She managed to slash one wrist, before the attempt was ultimately aborted.

Garza told CBS News that she had never been under psychiatric care. And yet, "it was like a psychotic breakdown that came out of nowhere," Amy told CBS' Assuras.

A spokesperson for Pfizer defends Chantix. In a statement to CBS news, VP of Medical Affairs for Pfizer Dr. Ponni Subbiah said, "I can tell you there's no scientific evidence establishing a causal relationship between Chantix and these reported events."

However, the concern remains. A popular television producer in England committed suicide after attempting to quit smoking using Champix, the British cousin to Chantix. And a promising US musician suddenly turned aggressive, assaulted his girlfriend and attempted to break into a neighbor's home before he was tragically shot dead by the startled occupants.

While suicidal thoughts are rare, they are identified in the product literature, as well as in post-marketing studies. As well, Chantix has a laundry list of adverse affects, including aggression and anxiety.

Yet to be determined is the relationship of Chantix to challenges normally attributed to smoking cessation. Further, not everyone will behave the same, towards the same medication. That variance is only exacerbated with a drug that targets, and has an impact on the brain.

For now, the FDA is taking a position that the benefits of quitting cigarettes outweigh the risks associated, or suspected with Chantix. However, the agency is monitoring the situation, and advocating that any individual on Chantix should be closely monitored.

Garza, 33 and a smoker for 17 years, blames Chantix for her suicidal thoughts.

"You really think it was because of this drug?" was the question posed by CBS' Assuras.

"I do," was Garza's reply.


Chantix Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered suicidal thoughts, or committed suicide from using Chantix, please contact a lawyer involved in a possible [Chantix Lawsuit] to review your case at no cost or obligation.


Posted by

Doesn't nicotine withdrawal cause suicidal thoughts? The only people who have psychological issues in my experience are those who already had psychological issues to begin with. I've known 5 people on Chantix, 2 who were already a bit crazy and three who were relatively sane. The 2 that had issues experienced some pretty crazy episodes from extreme paranoia to almost catatonic behaviors. The sane three were perfectly fine, just some vivid dreams. I myself am fine on it - not a single side effect save some mild nausea. Combine insanity with nicotine withdrawal and you have.... suicidal thoughts. But blame the medication and sue the drug maker so the rest of us lose a product that actually helps those of us who are sane.


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