Dark side of Chantix comes to light

Once hailed as a miracle drug for helping people to stop smoking, Pfizer’s Chantix has recently raised concerns as reports surface that it may have a disturbing side effect – suicidal thoughts and actions. A report in the New Jersey Star-Ledger notes that the FDA is investigating reports of a number of serious psychological side effects. In additon to suicidal actions, reports include agitation and depression.

As a result of these reports, the FDA issued a public advisory, and required new safety warnings on the label. However, the FDA said it is still not sure if the side effects are attributable to Chantix, or may stem from nicotine withdrawal itself, which may worsen underlying existing psychiatric symptoms.

The Star-Ledger report says the FDA was spurred to more closely examine Chantix after a case in Dallas, Texas, involving musician Carter Albrecht, who was fatally shot after a night of “uncharacteristically violent behavior,” which his family attributed to his Chantix use.

According to the Star-Ledger, Pfizer said there were no suicides attributed to the drug during clinical trials, and they did not note any differences in behavior in clinical test subjects. However, the company also says that no people with known existing psychiatric disorders were used in the trials.

The drug is currently undergoing further study.