Quit Smoking By Suicide?

Once again the FDA appears to be on the side of "Big Pharma" to help doctors sell us more drugs. They suggest physicians combine counseling with medication, and are encouraged to suggest anyone who wants to quit smoking go on some sort of drug. The latest and considered to be the most effective is Chantix, and even tho the FDA for a second time has instructed Pfizer, Inc. to put stronger warnings on the packages, they push us in that direction.

The new warnings will appear in the WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS sections of the Chantix prescribing information. This a stronger form of WARNING that the one set last year. This warning comes after confirming that 39 suicides have occurred in patients taking varenicline (Chantix). Eighty-seven percent of those suicides have occurred in the United States.

If you google Chantix, you can find many message boards with so many comments, good and bad concerning this drug. Many people have had great success with the only side effects being nausea or wild dreams. Unfortunately there are also the stories of:

1) the guitarist, who after taking the drug for one week, mixed it with alcohol, became extremely violent and confused, beat up his girlfriend, kicked in his neighbor's door, to be shot dead by the neighbor
2)Dad-of-two Wayne Marshall, 36, was found hanging shortly after finishing a 13-week course of Chantix.
Wife Emma, 28, said: "He went downhill so quickly. He stopped going out. He closed himself off completely from everybody."
3) TV editor Omer Jama, 39, slashed his wrists at his home in Bolton last October.

A further 62 suicidal-type reactions have been reported to the medicines regulator. ( Lucy Thornton 21/01/2008)

Due to the fact that when you're having a "psychotic episode" you're probably the last one to know it, the directions tell you to advise friends, family, co-workers to bring it to your attention if they notice differences in your behavior such as increased agitation, violence, or depression.

Lois Biener, a researcher of tobacco use and control efforts at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, said most people who quit do so without smoking-cessation drugs.There's little evidence that these drugs are superior in the long run to quitting without help, and while a few studies have shown some benefit, it's "way less than what is claimed" by medication advocates, Biener said.

I found it interesting that the new guidelines for physicians were headed by Dr. Michael Fiore, an expert on smoking and health issues, and was a consultant to the maker of Chantix. Of course he says he has no ties to the drug, but I can't help but feel he may be a little biased. I also found it interesting that three of 24 panelists who wrote the guidelines reported "significant financial interests" in the pharmaceutical industry, including speaking fees and stock ownership. What a coincidence!

God Bless you if you are trying to quit or have quit smoking. God knows, I should quit, but like other drugs that doctors tout for money vs. my well being, this one scares me a little too much.

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