Chantix Linked to Suicide Risk in Study, FDA Disagrees

Just a week after the release of a federally-sponsored study attesting to the safety of the drug Chantix– used to help patients quit smoking- an independent drug safety group has released a study linking the controversial drug to risk of suicide.

Unsurprisingly, the FDA and manufacturer Pfizer are not pleased with the study’s results and refute its findings. Chantix has been on the market for four years in the US, but the study has found that 90% of all suicides related to anti-smoking treatments have involved Chantix, during the period between 1998 and 2010. Mental health risks associated with Chantix are not entirely unknown- users report some terrifying phenomena while using the medication- but the study assigns some hard and fast numbers to those anecdotes finding Chantix users are eight times more likely to result in suicidal behavior or depression than use of nicotine-replacement gums, patches, lozenges, and inhalers.

Study researcher with the group Safe Medicine Practices Thomas J. Moore said the study leads the group to conclude that “[Chantix is not suitable for use as a first choice for people who are trying to stop smoking,” and notes that the FDA study relied on hospitalization records, making it “fatally flawed.” Moore points out that suicide “does not result in hospitalization.”

Pfizer spokesman MacKay Jimeson criticized the independent study, saying the data could have been influenced by other sources:

“Post-marketing reports can come from any source ranging from patients to health care providers, and from phone calls to Internet postings and lawyers,” he tells WebMD. “Because of the many limitations of post-marketing reports, the conclusions made by the authors are not supported by the data.”

Have you relied on Chantix to quit smoking? Did you find the side effects difficult to handle?