ASH Scotland Recommend Suicide Drug Chantix/Champix To Mentally Ill

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by: James Dunworth

Andrew Case loved his family.

On Facebook he wrote:

I hate seeing my babies poorly, breaks my heart.

No clue of what was to follow came in one of his final entries, boasting that his little daughter, Bee:

… dances like an angel.

Shortly afterwards, Andrew, who was training to run a marathon to raise money for parents of special care babies, stabbed his wife in the neck. He smothered his two young children, and then hung himself.

Meanwhile, Mc Linden, a happily married man who had never suffered a mental illness previously, told his wife that was someone was trying to kill him.

He barricaded his house, and started keeping his shotguns with him at all times.

Finally, he left his house with his one of his guns.

He would never be seen alive again.

When his grieving wife telephoned America to inform relatives, she heard for the first time of the numerous suicide cases associated with drugs he had been taking.

The Suicide Drug

Like dozens of other suicides, both successful and attempted, these victims were taking Champix (US: Chantix).

Pfizer and the anti-smoking charities it funds continue to insist it is safe, and that the benefit of using the drug outweighs any danger.

I’ve also debated this with a scientist who says that is it no use giving individual examples.

Well, here’s some statistics:

  • Chantix has been associated with more than 400 cases of violence
  • Chantix has been assocated with more than 11,000 serious adverse effects.
  • Chantix has been associated with 18 times the number of violent cases as one would have expected by chance.
  • There are 200 lawsuits alleging family members committed suicide because of chantix, with another 1375 possible cases to follow
  • Varenicline, the drug used in Chantix, accounted for 988 serious injuries reported to the FDA, more than any other single drug

Source: Tobacco Analysis Blog

Let’s bear in mind that these are just the cases that have been reported.

Visit any of numerous smoking forums and ask smokers for their experiences with Chantix and you will soon get dozens of replies detailing side effects. (Here’s one thread to get you started!)

I was particularly alarmed by comments on one blog post which suggested that mental problems caused by Chantix did not cease when the user stopped taking the drug – a comment which has since been confirmed by the FDA (see below).

Let’s give the suicide drugs to the mentally ill!

The anti-smoking lobby have long promoted the use of Chantix and Champix and other drugs using Varenicline.

That may be because many are funded, directly or indirectly, by the very companies who produce the drugs.

More alarmingly, some groups are now starting to recommend these drugs ¬†specifically for use with one of the most vulnerable groups of society, the mentally ill. That’s despite the fact that Pfizer itself excluded people with mental illnesses from its trials.

We’ve chronicled before how big pharm scientists have issued a press release ordering counsellors to take advantage of the trust they have built up with mentally ill patients to push Chantix.

Here’s an extract from their press release:

They [the study results] find if you TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE COUNSELLOR and insert smoking cessation counseling into treatment that you enhance quit rates.

As we mentioned at the time, both scientists received funding from companies which manufacture smoking cessation drugs. One scientist, Dr George, had been paid money by Pfizer, Sepracor, Targacept,  Sanofi-aventis, Prempharm, Glaxo-SmithKline, Eli Lilly, Janssen-Ortho, and Evotec.

The Science Behind Giving Suicide Drugs to the Mentally Ill

Now, as Velvet Glove Iron Fist has chronicled, ASH has joined the fray – arguing that there is clear evidence that PATIENTS WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES should be prescribed with these drugs.

Here’s what they say to be exact:

ASH pushing suicide drug.

Ash Scotland claiming the suicide drug is fit for people with schizophrenia.

Really? Because even the FDA states:

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.

Source: Big Brother Watch

But hang on, Ash Scotland have got the data to back their information up. They mention a study. The study took some tracking down (they link to the site but not the study), and strangely there is no abstract, forcing you to spend $32 on a one page pdf to get at the data, but surely we can trust ASH Scotland and researchers.

As ASH said there has been a study into Schizophrenia and varenicline (the drug in Champix/Chantix). Now let’s guess how many people would need to be tested to test the safety of the drug with patients. 40,000 people were followed over several decades to find the connection between smoking and lung cancer, but ASH Scotland does say this is a small study. Perhaps just a few hundred subjects:

Image from the study showing varencline was tested on just four people. Source: Varenicline for smoking cessation in people with schizophrenia: a double blind randomized pilot study

That’s right – FOUR people!

I am no expert on Epidemiology (I will be asking Professor Carl Phillips, who is an expert, to analyse the study), but I would argue 4 subjects do not provide enough of an evidence base to risk people’s sanity and lives.

(Incidentally, although no-one tried to top themselves, there were plenty of side effects reported. 2 reported constipation, 3 reported insomnia, and 3 wanted to puke. Not bad going for a study of 4 people).

Given that ASH is funded to a large extent by your and my taxes (hardly any of the funding for this ‘charity’ comes from donations),

Graph showing funding of ASH Scotland.

…I think schizophrenics could be forgiven for thinking everyone was out to get them – they might even be right!

I would also argue there is a serious cause for pulling NHS, lottery and government funding for an organisation which puts out these crackpot and dangerous suggestions and advice.

Have you had any bad experiences with Chantix? Please let me know about them in the comments below!

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27 Responses to “ASH Scotland Recommend Suicide Drug Chantix/Champix To Mentally Ill”

  1. MrVaporEyes April 26, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    This was quite disturbing. Thanks for this and your blog. I’m attempting to start my own blog and had to include a link to this article. Great job!

  2. Diane April 26, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    I gave Chantix a go a few years ago, when it was known as Champix.

    My kids are my life and I would do anything for them but I had no patience for them while taking the tablets, they just annoyed me all the time doing what they do everyday that would normally make me laugh or smile, they were there and I didn’t want to be. I wanted to go away and leave them behind, just pack up and go, something I would never in a million years ever consider doing when not taking these tablets. My son later told me he was scared of me, even to look at me. It was only when I phoned for a repeat prescription that the penny dropped, I stopped taking them straightaway and was back to my normal self within 24 hours, the guilt I felt was unbelievable, that I could make my kids scared of me. I told my doctor who’s reply was, “Well people who may have an underlying mental health problem can suffer these type of problems”, I don’t and never have had a mental health problem, but the doctors seem to cling on to that old chestnut as a get out clause.

    I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone.

  3. admin April 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    Thanks for sharing that, Diane. I have two small kids myself and the thought of a drug that would make me harm them makes me feel sick.

    I wonder how many doctors have said what yours said to you, and how many stories like yours are not counted in the statistics?

  4. Warren Bottoms April 26, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Thanks for this post. I knew Chantix was horrible, but I never knew just how bad it was and how Pfizer “bought” it’s approval. The FDA is proving more and more to be a front for Big Pharma to conduct it’s mob- like activities. Moreover, the FDA is working solely for the entities that fund their existence and definitely NOT for the American public. I hope this post opens some eyes for people, so they can see how they are being lied to by the very agencies sworn to protect them.

  5. admin April 27, 2011 at 12:15 am #

    Welcome to the blog, Warren, it’s always nice to see another e-cigarette blogger :) I think we are thin on the ground. Hello to vapor eyes at the same time.

  6. Robert Feal-Martinez April 27, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    I have sent this email to Amanda Sandford of ASH together with a link to this blog.

    I have long accepted that ASH lack what could remotely be described as morality, when publishing and repeating the lies surrounding passive smoking, however when you continue to promote drugs that have killed hundreds of people and have caused serious harm to thousands one has to seriously question why both the UK Government and the Scottish Parliament continue to hand over millions of our money.

    I am sure you will be aware of a proposed legal case involving Pfizer, let us hope this case exposes the duplicity of all involved in promoting death by prescription drug.

    If you have any humanity at all you will read this link and feel disgusted and ashamed. I somehow doubt it though.

    Robert Feal-Martinez

  7. Natalie Drest April 27, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    I have used this drug on three separate occasions… Never felt suicidal and never had any untoward symptoms…

    From what has been written here and many other places that I have seen today, I must have been lucky.

    What I have found though, is that as soon as I stop taking it, I still have to go through “cold turkey” for the cigarettes… After a couple of days (for it to wear off), it is like I just stopped smoking today, and I have to through the usual two weeks or so of absolute hell.

    If one is partial to the occasional illegal cheroot, it is not long before one is back on thirty a day of the legal kind… Hence the three attempts so-far.

    I hope there isn’t a next time, but if there is, I won’t be using Champix.

  8. admin April 27, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Thanks, Robert. It will be interesting to see if they comment – I have found that, with a couple of exceptions, the normal approach of the anti-smoking lobby is to ignore anything which contradicts their opinion.

  9. admin April 27, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    Hi Natalie, glad it didn’t have any negative effects on you. If you do try to quit again why not try the Allen Carr method – over 50% proven effectiveness. Or if you don’t want to quit use an alternative like electronic cigarettes or smokeless tobacco.

  10. terri July 14, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    I took two scripts back/back in ’07. Two, long hospital stays in ’08. Was more than excited when this miracle pill hit the shelves. Can’t believe I was so gullible, naive & STUPID enough…to literally put my life in Pfizer’s, my doctor’s, FDA’s and pharmacists hands…w/out hesitation or question.

    Feared drugs as teen…can describe in vivid detail at 55, an hallucination. Had I not taken this drug myself, I doubt I would believe the horrible stories and horrendous side effects…suffered by so many. But I did…and I can.

    True to it’s promise…after awhile, smoking became tasteless and a chore. WOW!!! Is that IT??? Am I DONE??!!! Geez…THAT was easy!!!…And, had it stopped THERE…it WOULD’VE been a miracle.

    But, it didn’t…seems that once its in the bloodstream and does its job on the smoking receptors…it snakes PAST that…grows feet and tentacles…and plants itself wherever it feels like. I swear…I NEVER would’ve believed that a little blue pill would have the POWER to actually distort and WARP my thoughts, dreams, reflexes, outlook, etc….

    It’s a crazy, slow, ALL-CONSUMING & THOROUGH process. Once in your system only God knows how/where you’ll land. Your mind is no longer your own. The dreams/hallucinations SO real….you start questioning your “state.”

    Hard to explain….hard to believe…all faith in the medical society lost and gone forever. It sickens me to think about the number of people affected…that never even PUT this drug into the equation…and were just written off. I, mySELF, didn’t…my mom started feeding me articles on the negative side effects three years ago….while I was busy beating myself up over a very serious suicide attempt. It took me awhile to take the bait/info…but, I finally did…then did my OWN research…and was SICKENED…by what I found out.

    This drug is for real. While on the right track….it needs to be pulled until the kinks can be worked out…if that’s even possible.

  11. admin July 14, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    I am really sorry you had such a hard time, Terri.

  12. Mitzi M. November 2, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    I’m very worried. My bi-polar husband was diagnosed with copd last May. He’s been trying to quit smoking ever since. He went to his psychiatrist today who prescribed him Chantix to help him quit. He has to quit smoking because of the copd and has been unable to do so thus far.

    I have to tell you he’s been difficult to live with throughout the years. He’s a wonderful person but he’s bi-polar with more manic than depressive phases. I tried to warn him about the issues but he’s the kind of person who does whatever the doctor says. I myself don’t have that kind of faith in modern day medicine but he never questions them. Now I’m afraid he’s going to go berzerk and if not injuring himself may injure me or my 20 yr old granddaughter who lives with us. I’m also just basically worn out from living with him and his “issues” 23 years and now this! I am so worried. Help anyone. I love him and have coped the best I can with what his mental issues have thrown my way but this drug & the potential side affects really scare me. He takes his first dose tomorrow.

  13. admin November 2, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    “Some patients have experienced changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts or actions while using Chantix to help them quit smoking. Some patients had these symptoms soon after they began taking Chantix, and others developed them after several weeks of treatment, or after stopping Chantix.”

    Before taking Chantix, patients should inform their healthcare professional if they have ever had depression or other mental health problems.”

    Source: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm276737.htm

    Why don’t you try other alternatives first? We recommend smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes – see http://www.tobaccoharmreduction.org/ for information about these.

  14. cigarbabe November 6, 2011 at 7:34 am #

    It is unconscionable that ASh is now advising anyone to use this drug on the mentally ill patients who smoke.
    I cannot understand how these people seem to have no principles when it comes to pushing corrupted science, untruths and outright lies to people simply to have folks side with them in their pursuit to ostracize smokers and vapers.
    What the fruck is wrong with these people promoting this horrendous idea to give Chantix to the mentally ill? Don’t they have enough issues? Chantix never should have been approved by those soulless cretins at the FDduh!{as I call it!}
    What has happened to having scruples and principles and caring about those less fortunate than you??
    Shame on ASH and any organization who would push this idea.
    C.B.

  15. admin November 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Mitzi, you may want to check out this new research: Chantix raises suicide risk: http://www.thirdage.com/news/chantix-raises-suicide-risk_11-06-2011

    Cigarbabe, I agree completely! It maddens me that my tax money goes to support these people.

  16. Angry Squaddie November 8, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Consider this, if you’re a British soldier and given Champix you cannot be deployed or even given a weapon for at least 12 months…

    • admin November 8, 2011 at 1:16 am #

      I had no idea!

  17. Tony November 8, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    Angry Squaddie is right, also Airline Pilots and Truckers are banned from this drug, as it causes lack of concentration as well as suicidal tendencies.
    As for ASH recommending it for Mental patients we all know who one of their biggest contributors are Big Pharma through the NHS and Gov Funding, and they would recommend Rat poison if they got funds from them.
    NO MORALITY with that bunch of Charlatans.

  18. admin November 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Anyone reading this from Scotland? As ASH Scotland is funded by the government, I think this would be well worth taking up with your local/ Scottish Government.

  19. ross mc donald March 4, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    too many negitves about chantix/champex indicate lack of research,evenly rounded off numbers indicate made up figures,no doubt there are negitive symtoms and withdrawal cold turkey has no reputation for creating cheerful charlies,lets face it cold turkey would be guilty of inciting more incidents than e cigs or pills/patches.read chantix forums to establish facts,bad as they can make people feel its on the whole a drop in the ocean to how cancer medication and treatment….the important thing is e cig patch or pill what works for u works.apparently an e cig blew a mans teeth out,is that grounds to discount that lifes are saved..5 people are run over per year in london,do we ban buses of course not,statistically i made up that figure.a person who was a freind sadly got into heroine,he got precribed methadone although to me thats still heroine i can understand why a person sees a vapour and says potatoe potatoe.although iv never tried if it stops someone smoking its all good..the biggest help to me was deciding thats enough i read over cancer sufferers blogs,looked at corroded lungs..id be sopportive of any stop method,however,if i see 200 people hand in hand with champix logos on their backs heading for a bridge ill research further,i have no idea how many people vape,however,have no vapers commited suicide,increased decessed antisocial behaviour…any addiction is bad news

  20. James March 4, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    Thanks for your feedback. I do appreciate your points (I made them myself in the past, before the full extent of the adverse reactions became clear), however the main point of this blog was that Chantix should not be recommended to people with mental illnesses, despite FDA warnings, based on the experience of just 5 people. I think your point, that we can’t draw conclusions by looking at small, isolated numbers, adds weight to this argument!

  21. Sue May 2, 2012 at 1:41 am #

    People with mental illnesses have just as much right to proper medical care as anyone else. If they are detained under the mental Health Act, they cannot leave the hospital. This may go on for months. If they are deprived of their liberty due to ‘illness’, isn’t in inhumane to expect them to go without their tobacco products as well? Even criminals in prison aren’t put through that!

    Should such a dangerous drug be given to a vulnerable person who may not understand all the implications and the list of side effects? How can they possibly make a properly INFORMED choice? Indeed, if the side effects were explained to every prospective user, mentally ill or not, who would actually be mad enough to want to take it voluntarily?

    Its an internationally accepted principle that medical personnel may act in an emergency, without consent of the patient, only to save life or limb. This allows unconscious trauma victims, for instance, to be rescued and aided. Champix even by the wildest stretch of imagination does not fall into this category, and to force it onto people who cannot give informed consent is improper and disgraceful conduct, and the guilty medical practitioner should be struck off their professional register and no longer be permitted to practice.

    The basic underlying principle and defining ethic of those in the Health Professions is Primum Non Nocere – or, First, do no harm. If you can’t do any good, at least refrain from causing harm to those you are sworn to care for.

    Its not rocket science!

  22. Old Dog May 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Yep I tried champix and while it did take away cravings it also had me doubled over for 4 hours a day, nausea, cramps and that was taken on a Very Full stomach. On an empty stomach it was nearly an ambulance job. Needless to say I went back to the smokes. I now have been vaping for 6 weeks and been off the smokes since day2, no stress, no hassles, no worries.

    I also suffer from seasonal depression and at 1 point 20 years ago was hospitalized for attempted suicide and know from personal experience if you take away the 1 constant thing in someone who is suffering from a mental illness you’re just making matters worse. Every fellow patient smoked and lets be honest…when your whole world doesn’t make sense or your headspace is so screwed a smoke can be the only thing that you can rely on. You have a smoke and you know what your going to feel, the hand to mouth, the draw, the hit, that little bit of relief. The whole action is therapeutic.

    Personally I would love to see e-cigs available in all psychiatric hospitals

    • James May 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      I am really sorry to hear you have had such a hard time, Old Dog! Glad vaping is working out for you – hope it continues to do so :)

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