I was intrigued when an Australian friend told me about a drug which he had bought in Australia, subsidised by the government, to help him to stop smoking. The drug, he said, worked by affecting the part of the brain that made the smoker addicted.
The drug was Champix, a precription quit-smoking drug manufactured by Pfizer. Champix has show reasonable success in helping smokers to give up smoking, with about 25% remaining off the dreaded weed after a year of taking the drug.
Unfortunately, as Karen Mc Ghee, a smoker on champix who was found hanging from the bannister by her nine year old daughter, can testify, the drug can have unpleasant side effects.
In a rare number of cases the drug can cause depression and even lead to suicide. Of about 20,000 users in the UK around 50 have suffered from depression.
That’s not a huge number, and in all likelihood the drug will save more than it kills. Of course, that is of little consolation to the people it does kill.
That includes Karen Mc Ghee, whose heart stopped in the ambulance on the way to the hospital – five times.
The doctors believed that she had brain damage, and after five days they turned her life support system off. Miraculously, just minutes after they turned of the system, and with her family waiting for her to die, she started breathing again.
Others have not been so lucky. They include Wayne Marshall, a 36-year-old father-of-two from Doncaster, TV editor Omer Jama, 39, both of whom killed themselves after taking the drug.
I think we’ll stick to selling e-cigarettes for now, though!