Are Chantix reactions a laughing matter?

The number of bloggers out there writing about their personal experiences with Chantix and documenting, for the world to see, the musings of a mind tortured by nicotine withdrawal, seems to be proliferating even as prescriptions for the smoking cessation drug decline. Now it appears that a new genre in world of Chantix information has emerged: the Comical Side Effect., a reader-powered comedy website, announced a contest it is holding for the most hilarious Chantix story. The person who submits the funniest account of his or her Chantix side effects will win $500.00 — enough money for another 5 months of prescriptions.

As bizarre as the contest sounds, isn’t joking.

“We looked at all those side effects and we thought: pure comedy,” said editor-in-chief Sir John Hargrave in a statement. “In the bizarre dreams category alone, there’s just incredible humor potential for our site.”

A webpage for the contest, which runs through November 2008, asks, “Have you tried Chantix? Did you experience weird dreams, strange side effects, or violent mood swings? Write up your funniest description of the weird dreams or bizarre side effects of quitting smoking on Chantix, then submit them …”

It should be interesting to see how this contest is received by the public. Chantix was linked to more reports of adverse reactions and death than any other drug in the first two quarters of 2008. Controversy continues to escalate and broaden as the drug’s safety comes under close scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration and is prohibited or banned outright by some government and professional organizations.

Irreverence is often a big part of comedy. The ability to laugh at one’s self is tantamount to (and nobler than) laughing at others. Still, though, it seems like there may be a line here that has been stepped on, if not crossed. Can Chantix reactions really provide fodder for the comedy mill? Are the side effects really a laughing matter?