Motion denied to delay Chantix trial

The first trial alleging the stop-smoking drug Chantix causes serious and some life-threatening side effects will go forward as scheduled after a federal court judge denied a request by the drug’s maker to delay it in light of a new clinical study being released.

According to a Dow Jones report, Pfizer had requested a delay in the trial that is set to get underway on Monday in an Alabama federal courtroom. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of a Minnesota man who committed suicide while taking the popular yet controversial quit-smoking prescription drug. The lawsuit against the New York pharmaceutical company was filed by the man’s wife who believes his suicide is a direct result of taking Chantix.

This lawsuit is the first to reach the trial phase and is one of more than 2,600 other lawsuits making similar allegations, that Pfizer’s Chantix is responsible for causing serious and life-threatening side effects. Other lawsuits and reports have linked the use of Chantix to aggressive or compulsive behaviors like gambling or uncommon acts of violence and rage. Chantix has also been blamed for causing severe depression, enough that it could drive a person taking the drug to commit suicide or act in a suicidal manner.

Many of these side effects were noticed among U.S. soldiers returning home from active combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. These soldiers, as part of a Dept. of Veterans Affairs study, took Chantix in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and soon began exhibiting many of these dangerous and unexpected side effects.

The lawsuits further claim that Pfizer has been aware for some time that Chantix can cause these side effects but has continually marketed the somewhat groundbreaking prescription drug as being safe in helping habitual cigarette smokers to quit.

Pfizer argued before the federal judge presiding over the impending trial that a study the company had just released last week showed that Chantix was effective in helping smokers who suffer from depression, either currently or in the past, quit smoking and did not cause any psychiatric side effects, as many lawsuits allege, compared to a placebo drug used in the study.

This new evidence was not enough to sway the judge in the case to issue a delay in proceedings and the trial is still expected to begin Monday. The results of this trial could go a long way to determining how future lawsuits alleging Chantix side effects will be judged. Judge Inge Prytz questioned the timing of the release of this study, just days before the first trial was to begin. The validity of the study was also called into question as the research was fully funded by the drug maker.

In another matter related to this trial, Dow Jones adds, Pfizer’s CEO Ian Read has been called to testify in this first trial and the company is looking to avoid that possibility and has filed an appeal to the decision that compels him to testify.

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