U.K.: 10 Champix users commit suicide

For the first time, the British government has released safety statistics on the Pfizer smoking cessation med Champix, known as Chantix in the U.S. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) released figures showing that 10 Champix patients committed suicide, and a total of 24 died.

Another 213 reported suicidal thoughts and 407 said they'd become depressed while taking the drug. The MHRA said that the number of reported adverse events on Champix almost doubled to 3,541 in September from 1,811 in February. The number of people using the med grew as well, but current news reports contained no stats on scrip numbers.

There's no proven causal link between the deaths--suicides or no--and Champix. And there's been no proof that the med caused the psychiatric symptoms; as Pfizer has previously emphasized, smokers trying to quit often do get depressed. Nevertheless, experts worry that Champix may cause depressive thoughts and mood swings in some susceptible people. And the drugs watchdog is warnings doctors and nurses to monitor Champix patients, especially over New Year's, when many people typically try to kick their tobacco habits.

As you know, Chantix has drawn scrutiny in the U.S. for reports of similar psychiatric symptoms. Reports of erratic behavior among Chantix patients prompted the FAA to ban pilots and air traffic controllers from taking the drug. And in Europe, the EMEA ruled that the med needed safety warnings about suicide and depression on its label, which Pfizer added in February and updated in July.

- see the story in The Daily Mail