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Over 2,600 lawsuits alleging that Pfizer’s smoking-cessation drug Chantix triggers psychiatric problems await trial, and now one of the specific cases chosen to test the rest, frequently called a bellwether case, has been settled.

Plaintiff Billy Bedsole, Jr. alleged that Chantix caused him to suffer from suicidal thoughts and other psychiatric problems, resulting in him having to be institutionalized.  The case was even more anticipated because Pfizer’s Chief Executive Officer Ian Read, along with two other officials, were subpoenaed and set to testify next week in the trial.  But now the parties have reached a settlement, and we won’t have a chance to hear Read’s testimony.

Going forward, Pfizer continues to stand by its product.  Despite the fact that the FDA has required a black box warning to be added to Chantix, “highlight[ing] the risk of serious mental health events including changes in behavior, depressed mood, hostility, and suicidal thoughts”, Pfizer spokesman Chris Loder states “We believe that Chantix is an important treatment option for smokers who want to quit, and the company stands by the medicine and its continued use in appropriate patients.”

In addition to these thousands of lawsuits relating to mental problems caused by Chantix, in 2011 Pfizer had to face allegations that it could also increase the risk of heart problems.  The authors of the studies, funded by the National Center for Research Resources, states that Chantix use in tobacco users was associated with a 72% increased risk of serious cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, heart failure, or irregular heartbeat.

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