Relatives of a Texas musician who died in 2007 after acting bizarrely while taking the smoking-cessation drug Chantix have filed a lawsuit against the drug’s maker, Pfizer, accusing the company of failing to warn of suicidal thoughts and other dangerous psychiatric side effects associated with the medication.
The death of Carter Albrecht on September 3, 2007 became an example of reports of dangerous complications seen in people taking Chantix. Albrecht, a well-known Dallas musician and member of Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians, was fatally shot by a neighbor after the guitarist started banging on the windows of the neighbor’s house in the middle of the night.
Albrecht’s family claimed the strange and violent behavior was totally out of character for Albrecht and blamed his condition on Chantix, which caused severe hallucinations, vivid nightmares, and violent, unpredictable behavior.
Chantix, known chemically as varenicline, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and has become a popular drug used by people looking to stop smoking.
The drug works by blocking receptors in the brain that are stimulated by nicotine, thereby reducing the positive feelings that come from smoking cigarettes and helping smokers stop.
After Albrecht’s death, the FDA looked into other similar reports of Chantix users suffering from severe psychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts and behavior. Earlier this year, the FDA ordered Chantix to carry a “Black Box” warning on its labeling to alert users and physicians about the risks. A black box warning is the strongest advisement the FDA can order to be placed on products linked to serious side effects.
In a product liability lawsuit filed against Pfizer on September 2 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Albrecht’s family claims Pfizer negligently, carelessly, or intentionally marketed a drug without warnings about the risks of serious psychiatric side effects.
Other, similar lawsuits have been filed in courts across the United States by and on behalf of people who took Chantix and suffered serious or fatal injuries as a result of suicides, suicide attempts, and other changes in behavior allegedly caused by the drug, according to a report on aboutlawsuits.com.
Some suits have accused Pfizer of intentionally leaving people with histories of mental illness out of clinical trials for Chantix, which skewed the findings of the trials. Therefore, common conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia were not identified as increasing the risks of adverse events from using Chantix.
About 20 plaintiffs recently asked a court to consolidate federal Chantix litigation now pending into Multidistrict Litigation in order to increase judicial economy. Such cases may be handled at the same time by the same judge in order to avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings, repeat discovery on issues common to all cases, and to serve the convenience of the parties, the witnesses and the courts.
A hearing is set for Sept. 24 before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consider the plaintiffs’ request.
It is likely that the MDL will be granted in the Chantix case, since there are so many similar lawsuits filed against Pfizer nationwide. Streamlining the process to combine the cases into a single litigation group would make sense and would likely speed up the process for earning financial compensation for hundreds of people who have been injured by Chantix.
If you or a family member has been personally injured because of the fault of someone else: by the use of dangerous and defective drugs, bad products, or toxic injury etc then please contact the Fort Worth Texas Defective Drugs Product Liability Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online.
The Dr. Shezad Malik Law is currently evaluating and accepting Chantix Side Effect cases.