On Monday ABC News and The Washington Times broke a report on the Veterans Administration testing Pfizer’s smoking cessation drug Chantix on 140 veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The VA administered the drug to the soldiers without warning them about months-old discoveries linking Chantix to a range of neuropsychiatric behavior and illness, including depression, loss of sleep, vivid dreams, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal actions.
Yesterday, Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Barack Obama (D-IL) rebuked the VA and demanded an investigation. Both the White House and VA officials dismissed the criticism, with White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto calling the story an example of “irresponsible reporting.”
Today, however, more congressman are voicing their anger over the study, demanding answers, and calling for action.
Congressmen Bob Filner (D-CA), who is Chairman of the House Committee on Veteran Affairs, together with Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) sent a letter to the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs. In it, they voiced their alarm over the reported allegations and demanded copies of paperwork involved in the studies.
“Allowing, even encouraging, military veterans who have already made enormous sacrifices for our country to participate in drug studies that may cause serious, long-lasting health effects is tantamount to breaking our national promise to honor and support our veterans,” said Rep. Markey today.
The Congressmen sate in their letter, “When you’re taking advantage of a very vulnerable population, people who have served the country, and the agency that’s responsible for their welfare isn’t putting their welfare first, that’s a pretty serious breach of ethics.”