Chantix® is a smoking cessation medication marketed by Pfizer, Inc. that was approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. Chantix® side effects may include suicidal thoughts, depression and even violent behavior. In September 2007, Chantix® side effects were implicated in a bizarre death.
The Chantix® label warns of various side effects, including nausea, changes in dreaming, constipation, gas and vomiting. But those warnings are more prominent and easier to find than the fine print on the package insert that warns of the possibility of psychotic and suicidal behavior. But since its approval, more and more Chantix® users have reported these terrifying side effects.
Chantix® works by blocking nicotine receptors, thereby reducing cravings for and decreases the pleasurable effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Chantix® is the first such nicotine receptor partial agonist approved by the FDA. It is an alternative to other smoking cessation drugs and nicotine replacement therapy.
Chantix® and the resulting side effects may have played a part in the death of prominent Dallas musician Carter Albrecht. Albrecht, best known as a member of Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, started taking Chantix® in late August 2007. He was well liked in the community, with no prior history of violence. Immediately after starting to take Chantix®, Albrecht began to complain of vivid, hallucinatory dreams (a poorly documented Chantix® side effect). About a week after he started taking Chantix®, Albrecht had a violent encounter with his girlfriend. The episode occurred after Albrecht had consumed a couple of alcoholic drinks, and while on Chantix®. Albrecht’s girlfriend reported that he was confused, and did not recognize her. Before the night was over, Albrecht had been shot dead by a terrified neighbor on whose property he had trespassed.
After the publicity surrounding the celebrity of Albrecht’s death, many other Chantix® users complained of similar episodes of violent or suicidal behavior, especially when they had consumed alcohol. The Chantix® label does caution against alcohol use, but it does not warn that drinking alcohol while taking Chantix® could lead to violent or suicidal behavior. Furthermore, even though a large portion of the tobacco-addicted population is more likely to consume large amounts of alcohol, Chantix’s® reaction with alcohol has not been adequately studied in clinical trials.
This litigation is in its infancy, and BCA has already had its lawyers deliver lectures and write published papers on this topic.