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Chantix Lawsuit Alleges Drug Led to Murder-Suicide

May 11, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

A new lawsuit has blamed a horrific murder-suicide in Pennsylvania on Pfizer's Chantix.  According to the Beaver County Times, the Chantix lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages and restitution from Pfizer, and accuses the drug maker of failing to warn users of its dangerous side effects.

According to the complaint, which was filed in Federal Court in Pittsburgh, Sean Wain, 34, had been using Chantix for one to two weeks prior to his death. He killed his wife and himself in the front yard of their Western Pennsylvania home in the early morning of May 17, 2009, leaving their four children orphaned.

The lawsuit, filed by the Wains' estates, claims Sean Wain “would not have purchased and used Chantix had (Pfizer) properly disclosed the risk of serious injury, rage and/or death ... caused by the drug.”

Chantix was approved as a smoking cessation aid in 2006.  Just two months after the Wains' deaths, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that Pfizer add a Black Box Warning to the Chantix label regarding its association with changes in behavior, depression and suicidal thoughts. At that time, the FDA said psychiatric side effects seen among Chantix users included 98 reports of suicide and 188 reports of attempted suicide. While some reported psychiatric problems could have been the result of nicotine withdrawal, the FDA noted that many problems occurred while Chantix users were still smoking.   The agency advised doctors to monitor their Chantix patients for any unusual changes in mood or behavior after starting the drug.

Since then, Chantix has been associated with more reports of disturbing behavior. Last year, for example, a study from the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices found that Chantix was linked to 408 reported cases of violence over a five-year period.  That is more than double the number of instances reported for any other drug on the market in the U.S.

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