The litigation over Chantix filed by individuals who allege that the smoking cessation drug caused users to commit suicide or suffer serious injury due to psychological side effects, is moving forward. Hundreds of Chantix injury lawsuits are consolidated as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, where the cases are being coordinated during pretrial proceedings by U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson.
All of the complaints involve similar allegations that side effects of Chantix, a popular prescription medication sold by Pfizer to help people stop smoking, may increase the risk of serious injury or death due to suicidal thoughts and other unusual, aggressive behavior that has been reported to occur in some users after taking the medication. According to a prior case management order, a small group of cases have been selected for inclusion in an “initial discovery pool,” which will be prepared for early trial dates in the MDL, known as bellwether trials. In complex litigation involving a large number of claims with similar allegations, such trials are often helpful in allowing the parties to gauge how juries are likely to respond to evidence and testimony that will be presented throughout many cases in the litigation.
While the first Chantix trials are not expected to begin until the second half of 2012 at the earliest, pretrial discovery is already underway. Judge Johnson has ordered Pfizer to turn over a number of documents to the Court for review in camera. The drug maker has claimed the documents contain privileged information. Chantix (varenicline) was approved in the United States by the FDA in 2006 as a prescription medication to help people quit smoking. The drug works by reducing the positive feelings that come from cigarettes, blocking the receptors in the brain commonly stimulated by nicotine. However, the impact of the drug on the brain has resulted in a number of reports from users who experienced sudden, unusually aggressive behavior, thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
In June 2009, the FDA added a “black box” warning to the medication about the potential risk of changes in behavior, depression and suicidal thoughts, which is the strongest warning that can be placed on a prescription medication in the United States. Most of the Chantix injury lawsuits currently filed allege that Pfizer failed to adequately research their medication or warn about the risk of these problems earlier. This year, the FDA also issued a drug safety communication about the potential risk of heart problems from Chantix, warning that the smoking cessation drug might increase the risk of certain cardiovascular events, including the risk of heart attack, among individuals who had cardiovascular disease.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.