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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

All about health, is it?

This report from the New York Times is very worrying.

Suicide Warning Issued for 2 Anti-Smoking Drugs

WASHINGTON — Federal drug regulators warned Wednesday that patients taking two popular anti-smoking drugs should be watched closely for signs of serious mental illness, as reported suicides among the drugs’ users mount.

Very worrying indeed.

Between the two drugs, Chantix and Zyban, the FDA have received 112 confirmed reports of completed suicides (ie real, confirmed, deaths), and 205 reports of attempted suicides.

In the interests of risk-prevention, these drugs must be withdrawn immediately, surely?

But officials emphasized that patients should not be scared away from taking the smoking-cessation medicines, Chantix, made by Pfizer, and Zyban, made by GlaxoSmithKline.

Of course not. Health authorities in the US, and over here, are balls deep in financial agreements with these pharmaceutical companies. It is impossible for them to act in the public interest due to the sponsorship and contracts to which they are tied.

A perfect UK example is Warwickshire PCT, which I talked about here recently (note: Chantix is marketed in the UK as Champix).

Contact 1: Plan strategy for quitting, including assessment for drug therapy including carbon monoxide test, access to nicotine replacement therapy, Zyban® or Champix®

Contact 2: Possible quit date
Ensure access to NRT, Zyban® or Champix®. Carbon monoxide test

And Warks PCT aggressively promote these these drugs, why?

Joint working with Pfizer around targeting of clinics/drop-ins

Joint working with Pfizer to develop more effective recruitment campaigns in N&B, also targeting health professionals to refer more and more effectively.

Can you guess why Pfizer want more effective referrals, boys and girls?

Meanwhile, back in the US.

The F.D.A. required Pfizer and Glaxo to place so-called black box warnings — the agency’s most serious caution — on the prescribing information for both drugs. Both companies will be required to conduct clinical trials to assess the mental health risks associated with the drugs’ uses.

In the clinical trial ordered by the F.D.A., manufacturers must assess risks among those with identified psychiatric disorders, because mental health problems are associated with high rates of smoking.

So, let's get this straight. The FDA have identified smoking as being associated with mental health problems, yet are not withdrawing a product which has been proven to exacerbate, or even cause, mental health problems and suicide.

Stinks, don't it?


Helen said...

If anyone can't see the connection, then they must be brain dead - MPs included.

There's even anti-smoking activists and health professionals 'jumping ship' and spilling the beans on how it's all about profit and nothing to do with health.

I wonder how many more innocent, law-abiding citizens will have to die before it finally sinks in?

Anonymous said...

Patricia Hewitt the Health secretary responsible for the smoking ban got a lovely job with Boots the chemists.

Boots appear to make a very healthy profit on NRT and smoking 'cessation' advise.

Did they hire Patricia for her looks I wonder ? Or for 'services' rendered to their 'industry .

TheBigYin said...

It stinks Dick? I can smell the 'money trail' coming through my VDU!

Anonymous said...

lol this is true.

When I tried to quit on the NHS I asked about any difference in efficacy between Zyban and Champix.

The nurse didn't know as the only ones who ever came back were the ones taking Zyban.

I burst out laughing as she'd already told me of the suicide risk.

She didn't see the funny side

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