Senators Obama and Cornyn question VA over Chantix tests

Yesterday, ABC News and The Washington Times broke a story about Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) receiving Chantix as part of a study conducted by the Veterans Administration.

Today ABC reports that Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and John Cornyn (R-TX) are demanding an investigation.

In the study, the VA gave 140 US soldiers with PTSD Chantix, not revealing to them that the drug had been linked to a number of physical and psychological side effects, including anxiety, nervousness, tension, depression, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, and actualized suicide. The Food and Drug Administration issued Chantix warnings months before the VA was compelled to notify the participating veterans.

Senator Cornyn told the VA Secretary to start asking questions and to take whatever measures are necessary to “identify the responsible parties, provide appropriate care to any veterans who have undergone this testing, and ensure that any unethical practices are immediately brought to a halt.”

Barack Obama made a public statement on the issue, saying “It is outrageous and unacceptable that our government would irresponsibly endanger veterans who have already sacrificed so much for our country.”

Despite the outcry, the White House wasn’t compelled to take action, finding apparently no fault in enlisting veterans with PTSD in a smoking cessation study and giving them a drug known for its potential to create a range of emotional and psychological havoc.

Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto dismissed the story as “irresponsible reporting,” claiming that the behavior of one soldier with PTSD taking Chantix was not concern enough to halt the entire study.

Barack Obama issued a statement on the matter today on his web site.

“Our veterans – particularly those suffering from mental health injuries – should have the very best health care and support in the world, they should never be needlessly exposed to drugs without proper notification of the dangers involved or effective monitoring of the side effects. I will immediately be asking for a full and thorough investigation of how our government could yet again let down our veterans and their families who have given so much to their country, and who have paid so much for the failures of civilian leadership in Washington,” said Senator Obama.

“It is time to demand accountability and to ensure that this kind of breach of trust never takes place again,” Obama said.