The anti-smoking lobby ASH have controversially suggested that smokers should be placed on the dangerous chemical Varenicline, which is sold under the trade name Champix or Chantix. This drug has been linked to more than 100 reports of suicides, more than 400 reports of violence, and more than 11,000 other cases of severe side effects. Users were also associated with 18 times the number of cases of violence than an average person. Out of a study of 484 pharmaceutical drugs it was found to have the largest number of violent cases. Due to these reports Pfizer, the drugs producer, were required by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to place a “black box” warning label on the medication, ironically similar to cigarette packs.
According to the FDA:
“Chantix has been linked to serious neuro-psychiatric problems including changes in behaviour, agitation, depressed moods, suicidal ideation and suicide. The drug can cause an existing psychiatric illness to worsen or an old psychiatric illness to recur and the symptoms can recur even after the drug is discontinued.”
Big Brother Watch have previously commented on the dubious record of ASH and its links to pharmaceutical companies. While maintaining financial connections with Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, they talk of shadowy ‘influence’ from tobacco companies encouraging people to smoke.
It is difficult to determine where this influence is coming from considering the total ban on tobacco advertising, not to mention the forthcoming ban on cigarette displays and the planned legislation on plain packagingIt is wildly dangerous to suggest smokers use a drug connected to so many instances of potentially fatal side effects.
Those who wish to smoke, a perfectly legal activity, should be allowed to do so, while those who wish to quit should be provided support from groups such as NHS Smokefree, but to suggest dangerous drugs is an abuse of power for lobbying firms such as ASH which have a financial conflict of interest. They should cease promoting Varenicline and its branded versions immediately.