The popular smoking cessation drug Chantix is the medication that most frequently makes people feel suicidal or homicidal, according to figures gathered by the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices (ISMP) and published in their QuarterWatch. And five of the other top ten medications that most often make people report feeling suicidal or homicidal are common psychiatric medications.
Using data gathered from US FDA adverse event reports between 2007-13, ISMP found that, “Varenicline [Chantix] ranked first in both suicidal/self-injurious thoughts as well as homicidal thoughts. Varenicline cases outnumbered those for any other drug by more than a 3-fold difference. For homicidal ideation cases the margin was a 5-fold difference.”
The figures have emerged at the same time as the FDA has, at the request of drug manufacturer Pfizer, softened the warning label for Chantix, and is considering removing the warnings about suicidal and homicidal ideation altogether, according to FiercePharma.
But Thomas Moore of ISMP criticized to Pharmalot the new information Pfizer has been providing to the FDA about Chantix. “The meta-analysis of suicidal behaviors included only a few of the many clinical studies, was much too small to detect these rare but catastrophic events, and was not published or peer reviewed,” said Moore. “The observational studies had even more limitations. Neither the observational studies nor the meta-analysis included the full range of psychiatric side effects reported.”
In the courts, though, the Fresno Bee recently reported that the US Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial for a US soldier, on the grounds that a trial judge should have allowed the jury to consider that “involuntary intoxication” from Chantix might have been what made the soldier commit murder. “The company has since reported paying at least $299 million to settle several thousand lawsuits,” with respect to adverse effects from Chantix, the Fresno Bee reports.
According to the ISMP figures, the antidepressants Paroxetine, Venlafaxine, Duloxetine, and Bupropion, along with the antipsychotic Quetiapine (commonly used to treat schizophrenia, but also frequently prescribed as a sleep aid or to people with dementia), were the psychiatric medications most commonly reported to cause suicidal and homicidal ideation.
Smoke This: Pfizer Wants Serious Warnings Removed From Chantix (WSJ Pharmalot, September 24, 2014)
Pfizer preps its case for FDA pulling Chantix’s black-box warning (FiercePharma, September 25, 2014)
New trial ordered for soldier who says anti-smoking drug drove him to kill Fresno native (Fresno Bee, August 27, 2014)