Studies Offer A New Look at Chantix Suicide Risk

Whitney Taylor | February 23rd, 2012

Chantix is touted as an effective medication to help people quit smoking, but the risk of potentially devastating Chantix side effects like depression and suicide have left some smokers wondering if the benefits are worth the risk. With the lawsuit number growing across the country, the FDA has taken another look at the risks associated with the smoking cessation drug to determine if the black box warning currently included on Chantix packaging is sufficient.

Researchers are also continuing to study Chantix side effects, including Chantix suicide and depression, and Chantix heart problems. Chantix lawsuit plaintiffs have made claims for all of these side effects.

Chantix suicide studied by VA, Department of Defense

Last October, as the Chantix lawsuit number was rising, the FDA reported on two studies investigating the Chantix suicide risk.

The first was conducted by the Veteran’s Administration, which compared 14,000 Chantix users to those who tried to kick the habit using other methods, like the nicotine patch. The second study on Chantix suicide, performed by the U.S. Department of Defense, compared approximately 20,000 Chantix users to 16,000 smokers that used another smoking cessation method.

Both of these studies found no increased risk of psychiatric hospitalization as a result of using Chantix. However, these results fail to take into account the incidence of psychiatric symptoms — such as those that might result in Chantix suicide — when no hospitalization occurs.

The Department of Defense study only followed subjects for 30 days, which may not have been enough time to observe side effects like depression or Chantix suicide.

Additional studies explore risk of Chantix suicide, other side effects

Currently, the FDA has determined that the black box warning regarding Chantix suicide and depression is sufficient. However, the agency has also ordered Chantix manufacturer Pfizer to conduct new safety trials on their drug. The results of those studies will not be available until 2017.

The FDA has also voiced concern over Chantix heart problems, after a 700-person trial last summer found the drug might increase the risk of heart attack in people already diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.

Another study recently published in the medical journal PLoS One shows a strong link between use of the drug and Chantix suicide, suicide attempts and depression. According to Consumer Reports, this study looked at FDA MedWatch database reports between 1998 and 2010, which showed 2,925 reports of Chantix suicide and depression, compared to only 229 reports from people taking another smoking cessation aid, Zyban, and 95 from people using non-nicotine replacements aids.

While the FDA still states that the benefits of Chantix may outweigh the risk for smokers trying to kick the habit, Chantix lawsuit plaintiffs who have experienced Chantix suicide or depression firsthand know just how dangerous and devastating these side effects can be.