Pfizer might fund study of Chantix and reduced risk of heart attack

CNN reports that Pfizer is thinking about launching a clinical test to determine if Chantix can help prevent smokers from having heart attacks. Considering all the negative publicity that has surrounded the drug over the last one and a half years, it’s understandable that Pfizer would want to invest a good deal of time and money in finding some benefit … even if they locate just one slightly dubious side effect, such as a reduced risk of heart attack in people who have quit smoking.

Such a finding would steer attention away from the host of negative side effects that Chantix is known to have. Moodiness, erratic or unpredictable behavior, depression, blackouts, memory loss, confusion, and suicidal thoughts and actions are some of the psychiatric side effects reported by many Chantix users. Non-psychiatric reactions such as sleeplessness and nausea are just as prevalent.

Soon after news of Chantix’s dark side emerged, the drug seemed to enter a tailspin. Pfizer yanked its commercials from the airwaves, numbers from the Institute of Safe Medicine Practices and the FDA revealed it to be one of the most dangerous drugs on the market, and sales and revenues plummeted.

Now that sales have steadied, the time is right for Pfizer to give its lackluster blockbuster a boost. According to CNN, “a study that demonstrates Chantix helps prevent heart attacks could mitigate the safety issues and revive sales, though there is the risk that a negative result would further damage sales.”

According to the CNN report, the study would examine whether Chantix reduces “the risk of subsequent heart attacks in smokers who have already had one.”

However, people who stop smoking, whether they use Chantix or some other smoking-cessation aid, will have already reduced their risk of heart attack simply by quitting smoking, so such studies would seem redundant.

But there you have it. If suicidal tendencies were considered a positive benefit of Chantix, you can bet Pfizer would be spending millions on finding more about that link.

According to the CNN report, Pfizer will decide whether to fund such a study by the end of the year.