Ethics in Medicine

Blockbuster Smoking Cessation Drug Linked to Heart Disease

Kristen Sparrow • July 19, 2011

I somehow missed the latest in a series of much-hyped, best-selling drugs turning out to have major problems. This article was released over the July 4th holiday, so I didn’t notice it. Long story short, Chantix is still on the market and will be studied further. From the article one critic is quoted as saying, “It causes loss of consciousness, visual disturbances, suicides, violence, depression and worsening of diabetes. To this list we now can add serious cardiovascular events.” Wow, sounds bad. So why would they leave it on the market? Well maybe because it’s “a product that has been prescribed to 13 million people and had $755 million in sales last year.” Or this “Chantix is selling well overseas. In Japan, for instance, some pharmacies ran out for a while recently, even as the drug failed to meet expectations in the United States because of health warnings and bad publicity.” Another fun fact was that physicians who prescribe the drug can expect to get one new cardiac event in every 28 patients taking the drug. But on the bright side, for every ten patients taking it, one will stop smoking (yes, one in ten) . So there’s that.

July 4, 2011
Study Links Smoking Drug to Cardiovascular Problems

Chantix, the best-selling prescription drug for smoking cessation, was linked to an increased risk of a heart attack, stroke or other serious cardiovascular event for smokers without a history of heart disease compared with smokers who did not use the drug, according to a Canadian medical journal report released on Monday.

The finding added to previous warnings about the pill’s connection to psychiatric problems and cardiovascular risks for people with a history of heart disease…
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