Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chantix: Friend or Foe for cigarette smokers?

Chantix was approved by the FDA in May 2006. It's a unique drug manufactured by Pfizer that helps smokers get over their cigarette addiction: http://www.chantix.com/content/Chantix_Branded_Homepage.jsp?setShowOn=../content/Chantix_Branded_Homepage.jsp&setShowHighlightOn=../content/Chantix_Branded_Homepage.jsp.

However, in Novemeber 2007 the FDA warned that some people who take Chantix become agitated, depressed and even suicidal: http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2008/NEW01788.html.

The Associated Press has publicized this by reporting on a patient with severe depression from Chantix on April 23, 2008: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iitxY52gN51-uGrhdxaz3PkPEodQD907NDK81

I think we’re losing sight of the real issue by being myopic about Chantix. The real culprit is tobacco, not Pfizer or Chantix. Chantix was created to deal with the severe physical and psychological addiction caused by tobacco/nicotine. Tobacco is the leading cause of cancer and heart disease in the USA, and probably the rest of the world. Tobacco kills more than 400,000 people a year in the USA according to US Government/CDC statistics: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/factsheets/cig_smoking_mort.htm
To put that in perspective, think of this shocking statistic: Tobacco kills 100 times more Americans every year than have been killed in the Iraq war in the last 5 years. Yet, for some strange reason there is very little, or no media attention to the 400,000 avoidable annual casualties at home. Why is that? Any mortality or morbidity from Chantix should really be attributed to tobacco as well.

It’s time that the government banned all marketing and advertising of tobacco products. There’s no excuse for banning tobacco TV ads and permitting advertisements in magazines, billboards, direct mail and other venues. For those who argue that there is a First Amendment right to advertise tobacco, please remember that there is also a Sixth Commandment: Though Shalt Not Kill. In this case the Commandment wins over the Amendment.

The media should also help spread the word about tobacco. Oprah, as a public service, should have an anti-tobacco show at least once a month till the tobacco companies are embarrassed and humiliated into stopping ALL tobacco advertising in the USA and internationally. People who have side effects from Chantix or have tried to commit suicide from Chantix can also appear on Oprah to emphasize that this is a tobacco related problem. She should invite guests with tobacco-related heart disease, emphysema and lung cancer on the show who can tell their cigarette induced horror stories. MTV should have a similar program once a month. MySpace and FaceBook should have anti-tobacco ads on each of their millions of web pages so that they can get the message across to the next generation. Stopping all tobacco advertising in the USA will also single-handedly reduce the USA healthcare budget and Medicare expenditures more than any other cost saving program!
Robert Cykiert, M.D.
WhatDoctorsThink.com
April 24, 2008

1 comment:

Rick Renzi said...

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