Chantix was supposed to help people become healthier by helping them to stop smoking. Manufactured by Pfizer and approved by the FDA in 2006, this drug has been met with a number of problems that resulted in lawsuits. The medication has since been discontinued in the United States. Below are 10 of the biggest lawsuits involving Chantix in the company’s history.
10. Allen v. Pfizer, Inc. ($243,000)
This was a case that was initially brought against the company in the state of Illinois. It alleged that the company knew of the potential dangers associated with the ingredients included in Chantix and that they therefore hid those ingredients from the public because they didn’t want anyone to find out what was actually in the medication. As a matter of fact, the lawsuit claimed that the individual in question would not have been willing to take the drug had she known what was actually included in it.
In addition to suing the company for the ingredients, she also attempted to sue them for mislabeling the drug intentionally. In this particular case, the problem was associated not only with the cancer risk, but also with other potential problems such as the need for kidney dialysis and other major medical procedures. The lawsuit claimed that because of the significant cancer risk, patients may end up on dialysis for life. In addition, they may find themselves in a situation where they had to have portions of their stomach or large intestine removed. As a result, this lawsuit dived deeper into the potential long-term problems associated with taking this medication.
9. Harris v. Pfizer, Inc. ($250,000)
This particular lawsuit alleged that while the active ingredient in Chantix, N-nitroso-varenicline, might sometimes be helpful in this secession of smoking, it comes with its own risks. More specifically, the lawsuit alleged that there was so much of this ingredient in the drug that it was dangerous for people to take it.
The reason that this was a problem for patients is because this particular ingredient is a known carcinogen. In other words, it has been well known to be a cancer-causing agent in people for a number of years. In very measured amounts, it can indeed be beneficial when someone is trying to stop smoking, but it is only recommended that the individual in question take that medication for a very specific amount of time. More often than not, patients are strongly cautioned against taking the medication for longer than 12 weeks.
This lawsuit alleged that the company encouraged their patients to take the medication for the initial 12 weeks and then continue for up to 12 more weeks. That fact, coupled with the fact that there was more than four times the allotted amount of this particular ingredient in the medication, made it a significant cancer-causing risk for anyone taking it.
Unfortunately, even those who didn’t have an increased risk of cancer were at several times greater risk after having taken his medication. For those who had been previous cancer survivors or who had a family history of the disease, the risk increased tenfold.
8. United States v. Pfizer, Inc. ($13.2 million)
Last but not least, you have the most recent case involving Chantix, one that included this class action lawsuit that was brought to the courts last year. It involves the accusation that Pfizer knew how dangerous Chantix was long before the drug was ever even made available to the public.
According to the lawsuit, internal research done by the company had indicated that Chantix was largely ineffective. In addition, trials that have been conducted by the company before the drug was made available for sale indicated that those who took it were far more likely to die an early death from cancer, heart disease, and even seizure disorders. The case claims that the company also knew about the violent tendencies and excessive depression experienced by many people who took it. Despite that fact, the company was accused of trying to hide this information while selling the drug to the public. They even made a final push to make as much money as possible when they knew that the drug was going to be discontinued by the FDA.
7. Abreu v. Pfizer, Inc. ($27 million)
This court case alleged that individuals who took Chantix were up to 72 times more likely to experience some type of potentially deadly cardiac event. According to the information presented in the case, this number held true, even if the individuals in question had never had any cardiac risk factors in the past.
Potential cardiac issues were not limited to heart attacks alone, but also to heart rhythm abnormalities that could prove fatal. The case also accused the company of creating a drug that made individuals who had no other known cardiac risk factors more than 70 times more likely to have a heart attack than they were before they started taking the drug.
6. Edwards v. Pfizer ($29.9 million)
This is a more recent court case that’s only been ongoing for a couple of years. Again, it alleges the company new about the many potential problems associated with taking this particular medication, yet they deliberately hid that information from the public even when they knew that a recall of the drug was imminent. In this particular case, Pfizer had learned that the FDA would be recalling the drug in 2021, due to the overwhelming number of complaints that largely centered around the same issues.
By that time, the FDA had received tens of thousands of complaints related to the drug causing cancer, violent behavior and other serious issues. Those issues were related to patients being at a dramatically increased risk of experiencing a stroke or heart attack. Furthermore, it was also discovered that this particular drug had a tendency to cause an irregular heart rhythm that could cause a person’s heart to suddenly stop beating, even when they had no previous cardiovascular issues.
Unfortunately, the drug was often prescribed to patients who also had a history of cardiovascular disease, previous instances of cancer, so on and so forth. As a result, a number of people suffered tragic consequences because they were already at a higher risk for issues and then they were given a drug branded as safe that was anything but. This court case alleged that Pfizer knew of these issues shortly after the time the drug was released to the public in 2006, yet they did nothing to correct the issues, nor make the public aware of them.
5. Rivero Mestre LLP et al v. Pfizer, Inc. ($300 million)
This involved a class action lawsuit that originated within the state of Florida. The case involved the generic version of the medication, manufactured by the same parent company, Pfizer. Again, there were concerns over the amount of varenicline that was in the medication. The lawsuit stemmed from two main factors. The first was that excessive amounts of this particular ingredient once again made it into the generic version of the drug. That action strongly increased the likelihood of cancer.
The case also alleged that the company had already been through this with its name brand products, Chantix. When they produced the generic version of Chantix, they simply made no changes to the drug whatsoever as far as the amount of varenicline that was included. The case brought forth some truly eye-opening information. For example, Pfizer knew that this ingredient was dangerous to individuals who took it, yet continued to manufacture both the name brand and generic brand of Chantix in much the same way.
In addition, the case also alleged that this generic version was largely ineffective. Aside from including a cancer-causing agent, it didn’t have much else in the way of ingredients. As a result, most people that took it weren’t helped by the medication in any capacity. They were merely exposed to a known carcinogen that could have a dramatic and dire impact on their lives in the long term without any immediate help for their smoking addiction.
4. Honik v Pfizer, Inc. ($400 million)
This particular case was another one that involved mislabeling by the company. Like a number of other cases that were similar, the lawsuit alleged that the company knowingly mislabeled the drug because they knew it was dangerous in the first place. According to the lawsuit, the company had even conducted its own testing and knew of the potential dangers associated with Chantix, so they deliberately mislabeled the product and sold it to consumers anyway.
The lawsuit even went on to talk about how officials at Pfizer tried to mislead medical professionals so that more individuals would prescribe the anti-smoking drug to their patients, many of them without knowing the potential dangers associated with the medication. Therefore, these medical professionals could not provide relevant information to their patients regarding the safety (or lack thereof) of this particular drug.
3. Jones v. Pfizer, Inc ($400 million)
This was yet another case that involved allegations that the company had deliberately mismarketed the product to the general public. The lawsuit even went on to claim that they did the exact same thing to the medical community, often more or less pulling the wool over the eyes of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who could have otherwise given accurate information to patients.
The lawsuit claimed that the company knew the medication contained excessive amounts of a known carcinogen. They went on to claim that the company also knew about the medication’s propensity to potentially cause violent behavior in a small percentage of individuals who took it. Despite all of these issues, the drug was always marketed as a safe alternative to help people stop smoking. As a direct result, a lawsuit was brought against the company for marketing the drug as something that it wasn’t.
In short, the case claimed that manufacturers were marketing the drug to individuals who wanted to live a healthier lifestyle by stopping smoking. However, these patients were blindsided and had no idea what they were actually getting themselves into when they started taking this drug. Unfortunately, many of them who were attempting to lead a healthier life ended up with lifelong physical issues and in some cases, both they and others close to them lost their lives.
The very fact that there were enough instances of this nature occurring that were directly linked to the medication is frightening in and of itself. It wasn’t until the drug had already been available for a number of years that people started making the connection, but this is a medication that was ultimately determined to be responsible in some way or another for the deaths of several individuals who took it.
2. Houghton v. Pfizer, Inc. ($2.3 billion)
Within a very short time span, the company was hit with another lawsuit involving the exact same issue. This particular lawsuit had to do with the amount of cancer causing agents included in the medication’s ingredients. According to the allegations of the lawsuit, these ingredients made the medication inherently unsafe for anyone who took it.
The court quickly pointed out that this was not the only lawsuit against Pfizer that had to do with a known carcinogen, something that largely prompted the court to determine such a large settlement. As a matter of fact, the court even decided that it didn’t matter if a patient took the medication for 12 weeks or less, it was still far too dangerous for individuals to take. This particular lawsuit was one that was most instrumental in eventually getting the medication removed from use in the United States.
1. Kline v. Pfizer, Inc. ($3 billion)
This is one of the more disturbing cases that was eventually brought against the company. It involved the allegation that this particular medication could alter the behavior of individuals who were taking it. They occurred after one individual who have been prescribed Chantix ended up killing two family members and then committing suicide. It was later determined that his burst of rage was likely linked directly to the medication he was taking at the time.
Unfortunately, since this particular case went to court, a number of other individuals have also brought forth claims that Chantix had a detrimental impact on their mental health. In short, a small population of individuals who took the medication seemed to have uncontrollable fits of anger where they committed violent acts, even though that wasn’t typically their personality.
The problem eventually became so widespread that before the drug was discontinued in the United States, there was serious consideration that additional warnings needed to be placed on the medication to warn people of the problem. However, this was never put into practice.
Again, this particular case also alleged that the company knew about the problem for years, yet deliberately failed to disclose the information. This turned out to be something that was common in many other court cases, as the company was accused of being aware of several of the potentially deadly side effects, yet trying to hide those side effects from the public eye.