Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Health Canada Bury Heads in Sand over Champix Suicides
Unsurprisingly, the Canadian medicines regulator, Health Canada, are burying their heads in the sand regarding the reported suicides that surround the smoking cessation drug, Champix, also known as Chantix [Varenicline]
Canadian newspaper, The Star, is reporting that their own "investigation has found 24 Canadians taking Champix to quit smoking have killed themselves since it hit the market here in 2007, putting it among the leading suspected causes of reported suicides linked to prescription drugs."
The investigation also found that there was no indication Health Canada has investigated individual cases of psychiatric side effects since it looked into 14 cases of aggression, depression and suicidal thoughts from 2007, adding, Health Canada did a “systematic review” to see if Champix caused psychiatric reactions in 14 cases from 2007, the year the drug came out here.
The regulator later said it “has conducted several systematic reviews of Champix,” but wouldn't provide details about subsequent cases it investigated or what it found.
I've wrote about Chantix on numerous occasions on this blog, this culminated in a Freedom of Information request to the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] who banned the use of Chantix in pilots.
One has to ask why. The evidence of which can be seen in the 58 pages document they sent me HERE
Earlier this year, in an act of utter lunacy, the Ontario government decided that they will fund the smoking cessation drugs Champix and Zyban by adding them to the Ontario Drug Benefit Plan. Zyban is more popularly known as Wellbutrin, an antidepressant sold by GlaxoSmithKline. They have just pleaded guilty to of-label promotion of Wellbutrin and other products, resulting in a $3 billion fine.
Here in New Zealand Champix was monitored by the Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme (IMMP) since its introduction here in 2007. They found:
Of the 22 reports of new-onset depression while taking varenicline, 15 were assessed as having a 'probable' relationship (i.e. there was evidence of positive dechallenge) with varenicline and 7 were assessed as having a 'possible' relationship. Three of the patients who experienced depression while taking varenicline also reported suicidal ideation and in two cases this resolved on cessation of the medicine. A further 10 patients experienced a worsening or recurrence of existing depression while taking varenicline. Of these, four recovered on withdrawal of varenicline, with the other six assessed as having a 'possible' relationship with the medicine.
Despite this, Champix is advertised on TV in New Zealand.
Medsafe argue, like any other medicine regulator, that there is a warning on the leaflet about suicide.
Not good enough.
Rumour has it that Pfizer, the manufacturer of Champix, struck a deal with the NZ government with subsidies [price reductions] for their products. Looks like the same is going on in Canada.
More info on Champix/Chantix:
58 Page document from the Federal Aviation Administration
Dying for a Pfizer Pfag [Chantix]
Passenger Safety - The Champix Scandal