Drug manufacturer Pfizer boasts that the controversial prescription medication Chantix has helped tens of thousands of people quit smoking, often after other methods have failed. Myriad commercials and advertisements for the drug feature grateful users who were able to finally kick their cigarette habit with the medicine and supplemental support.
But the true story is quite different. It includes common side effects, warnings and contraindications, doesn’t paint nearly as optimistic a picture.
The company likes to tout statistics and testimonials about the rate at which users were able to successfully stop smoking. They fail to account, however, for the very real problem of serious or potentially fatal side effects that have been reported.
In the past few years, the FDA has required Pfizer to make the risks associated with taking Chantix more prominent on packaging and on the drug website, yet many people still have adverse effects from it despite its FDA approval for sale.
The myriad risks
Pfizer’s official Chantix website reveals some of the many potentially serious side effects of using the medication, including:
- New or worsening depression or other mental health disorders;
- Suicidal thoughts;
- Lower tolerance to alcohol (including increased drunkenness, blackouts, memory loss and aggression);
- Heart attack;
- Anaphylactic (severe allergic) reactions;
- Sudden death;
- Stroke; and
- Kidney complications.
Weighing the pros and cons
Quitting smoking “cold turkey” is, according to anecdotes from smokers who’ve done it, one of the most difficult ways to stop and has a high failure rate. Your body quickly becomes dependent on the nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes once you start smoking them, and there are physical symptoms of withdrawal that happen after you are no longer ingesting them. These can include weakness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, depression and irritability. There are also psychological symptoms and pressures, particularly if you smoked in social settings.
Many people therefore fail when attempting to quit on their own.
As a result, many people have been willing to take Chantix in spite of the potential risks. The long-term use of tobacco is widely known to have potentially devastating consequences on the body, including the development of lung cancer, oral or other cancers, emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and more; these terrible possibilities could leave a fearful smoker desperate to quit.
If you or someone you love has taken Chantix and suffered injury as a result, you may have legal claims. Talk to a local personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.