Chantix Settlements Possible for People Who Tried to Quit

Richard Burke | June 8th, 2011

Despite mounting litigation and harrowing tales of Chantix side effects, it does not appear that Pfizer, maker of the controversial smoking-cessation aid, has yet reached Chantix settlements with any persons involved in Chantix litigation.

The absence of Chantix settlements is perhaps unsurprising. By settling out of court now, before any Chantix litigation has yet reached trial, Pfizer would be setting disadvantageous precedent for later. It may be in the pharmaceutical giant’s best interests to wait until one or several Chantix lawsuits reach trial before the company decides how to proceed out of court.

Chantix bellwether trial possibly to be seen in 2012

The Northern District of Alabama, where more than 1,200 Chantix lawsuits are currently consolidated in MDL, has remained mum on trial dates for the litigation. Still, experts say the first bellwether trial, chosen to represent a number of similar claims, may occur as early as first quarter 2012. As that trial date approaches, Chantix settlements become increasingly likely.

It is unclear how much Chantix settlements may be worth. As is typical of all litigation, settlement amounts are usually commensurate with injuries incurred due to use of a product that inadequately warned of those injuries. If it is determined that Pfizer was aware of a heightened risk of Chantix side effects such as depression, aggression and suicidal behavior, the company may be on the hook for punitive damages, which could boost the value of individual Chantix settlements into the million-dollar range.

Chantix suicides under-reported by Pfizer

Recent developments suggest the company may have indeed acted improperly in marketing its popular drug. Just this month it was announced Pfizer failed to properly report 150 instances of suicide linked to Chantix. France’s public health program stopped covering the drug, in part due to the announcement. And in May a family representing murder-suicide victims filed suit in Pittsburgh, seeking compensation for 4 children allegedly made orphans because of Chantix.

But perhaps most damning is the fact that Pfizer has admitted to shortcomings in studying Chantix’s affect on people who have preexisting mental conditions such as bipolar disorder or depression. Despite a lack of clinical testing on this demographic, Pfizer marketed and sold Chantix to millions of people who may be particularly vulnerable to Chantix side effects. Of the 1,200-plus Chantix lawsuits consolidated in Alabama, a number have been filed by plaintiffs who claim to have had preexisting mental health problems before taking Chantix. The medication, many say, may have pushed them over the edge and into hospitals.

As the headlines pile up against Chantix, the likelihood of Chantix settlements increases. That likelihood grows even further as trial dates approach. We will have more information about upcoming Chantix litigation as that information becomes available.