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Chantix (varenicline) is a nicotine-free anti-smoking drug manufactured by Pfizer, Inc. Chantix was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, but since then has been linked with serious psychiatric side effects, including blackouts, depression and suicidal thoughts. By 2008, the FDA had received hundreds of reports of suicides and suicide attempts as well as thousands of injuries and deaths involving patients taking Chantix. The FDA directed Pfizer to add a "black box" warning (see sidebar) to caution patients and professionals about the potential health risks associated with Chantix.

If you have been injured as a result of taking Chantix, you may be able to recover compensatory damages from Pfizer for your pain and suffering as well as medical expenses and lost income and opportunities. In addition, you may be awarded punitive damages to penalize Pfizer for wrongdoing. Loved ones can sue for wrongful death, compensation for which may cover medical expenses, funeral expenses, emotional distress and lost future income. Contact an attorney to learn more about recovering damages for the adverse effects that can occur as a result of taking Chantix.

Chantix Side Effects

According to the FDA, serious neuropsychiatric symptoms have occurred in patients taking Chantix, often within days of starting the medication. The FDA cautions patients and family members to be alert for the following symptoms:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Hostility
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Attempted and completed suicide
  • Aggravation of pre-existing psychiatric conditions (e.g., schizophrenia)


Did Chantix Kill Carter Albrecht?

In September 2007, Dallas musician Jeffrey Carter Albrecht (a keyboard player from the pop-music group Edie Brickell & New Bohemians) was tragically shot to death. At the time, Albrecht was taking Chantix to stop smoking. According to Albrecht's girlfriend, earlier in the evening Albrecht had been behaving strangely. He appeared confused and was hallucinating. Albrecht did not seem to recognize her and acted violently towards her, which she alleges never happened before. The fatal shooting occurred after Mr. Albrecht appeared at a neighbor's home, ranting and violently banging on the back door. The frightened neighbor fired a warning shot which accidently struck and killed the musician. Albrecht's family believes that Chantix played a direct role in his untimely death and has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer for compensation.

Other side effects that have been reported include nightmares, anxiety, diabetes, hallucinations, loss of vision, loss of consciousness, muscle spasms, seizures, heart rhythm disturbances and generally abnormal behavior.

Shortly after the drug's FDA approval, questions began to surface about the dangers of Chantix. Following a report linking approximately 200 accidents (including automobile accidents) to Chantix*, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense barred pilots, air traffic controllers and other personnel from using Chantix.

Black Box Warnings

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency charged with protecting the health of United States citizens. One of its key functions is ensuring that prescription and over-the-counter medication is safe and effective for its intended use and that the benefits of each drug outweigh the risks. This includes making sure the labeling provides adequate warnings and instructions for use. A black box warning is the most serious type of warning required by the FDA. According to the FDA, circumstances that warrant a black box warning include:

  • An adverse reaction so serious (e.g., fatal or permanently disabling) in proportion to the possible benefits that patients and physicians must take it into consideration when assessing the risks vs. the benefits.
  • The possibility of eliminating or reducing the frequency and/or risk of a serious adverse reaction by taking certain precautions (e.g., avoiding use in certain patients or certain clinical settings).
  • Approving the drug with restricted use only (e.g., only for patients over the age of 18)

Since it is unlikely that pre-market research will uncover every variable that could affect the performance of a drug, the FDA evaluates each drug before it enters the market and continues with post-market surveillance. Two years after the FDA approved Chantix, the FDA ordered Pfizer to add a boxed warning to call attention to the potentially serious psychiatric side effects, injuries and suicides reported in association with patients taking Chantix.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or even death as a result of Chantix, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical, financial and emotional suffering and losses. It is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible before legal time limits on your claim expire and you lose your legal rights.

Chantix Liability

Under product liability law, if a company develops, manufactures, distributes or sells a medication that is unreasonably dangerous or defective resulting in injury or death, victims and/or their loved ones may be able to recover damages. The product itself may be defective, meaning the design was flawed, an error occurred during manufacturing and/or the product was improperly promoted. Commonly asserted legal theories include strict liability, negligence, fraud/intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, failure to warn and more.

In lawsuits filed against Pfizer, plaintiffs have alleged:

  • Pfizer failed to conduct sufficient research and pre-market testing of Chantix
  • Pfizer knew about the dangers associated with Chantix (including depression and suicide) but failed to warn doctors and patients
  • Even after Pfizer added warnings to the package, the warnings were still inadequate

For more information on filing a Chantix lawsuit, it is best to speak with an experienced defective drug lawyer.

Chantix Lawyers

Smoking is a dangerous habit that can cause serious and potentially fatal diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease. Health professionals believe that quitting smoking will bring immediate and long-term benefits to your health and prolong your life. However, before beginning any smoking cessation program, patients and physicians must understand the potential dangers in order to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks for them. If you or a loved one has been harmed by Chantix, contact an attorney to learn more about your rights.

* The Institute for Safe Medication Practices