Army Pfc. George D.B. MacDonald, convicted in 2009 of stabbing and slashed a sleeping recruit whom he did not know, is appealing his judge’s decision to quash a subpoena for documents from Pfizer – and to not inform the jury of the defense of “involuntary intoxication.” Lawsuits by more than 2,000 people have been settled by Pfizer, the drug’s manufacturer, at a cost of at least $299 million.
Convicted of murder, ex-Benning soldier blames anti-smoking drug (Ledger-Examiner)
From the article:
“On May 13, MacDonald will get one more chance to plead his case when the nation’s top military appeals court will decide whether the trial judge erred when he quashed a wide-ranging subpoena for Pfizer documents. The documents, MacDonald’s lawyers say, might have helped prove the potential dangers of Chantix.
“The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will also examine the judge’s decision not to tell jurors about the defense of “involuntary intoxication.”
“‘He was denied the right to present his defense,’ said MacDonald’s appellate attorney, William E. Cassara.
“Whatever the court decides, a McClatchy review of thousands of pages of transcripts, court documents and regulatory filings found that the medical and legal twists and turns in MacDonald’s case have lagged behind the safety alarms over Chantix.
“The McClatchy review shows:
• Two days before Bulmer’s killing, the Food and Drug Administration warned that Chantix patients who develop neuropsychiatric symptoms should cease taking the drug and contact their doctors immediately. By then, MacDonald would later say, he was suffering from morbid nightmares and a growing sense of unreality. MacDonald apparently never learned of the warning.
• Five days after the homicide, the Defense Department declared that missile crews and air crew members should avoid taking Chantix. Pentagon officials explained that it was essential that service members “are given and use medications that do not put them and others at increased risk of injury or death.”
• One month after the slaying, in June 2008, the Department of Veterans Affairs began contacting 32,000 veterans who’d been prescribed Chantix, advising them of potential side effects, including suicidal behavior.
• One week after the trial judge refused on June 24, 2009, to compel Pfizer to comply with a wide-ranging subpoena, the FDA imposed a “black box” warning on Chantix, citing the potential for “serious neuropsychiatric” problems, including hostility. The warning — the most serious a medication can carry and still be sold in the U.S. — was followed by some 2,700 civil claims asserting Chantix had caused suicides, suicidal thoughts or other problems.
“It is important to note that there is no reliable scientific evidence that Chantix causes serious neuropsychiatric events including those at issue here,” Pfizer said in a recent statement to McClatchy.