Wednesday, May 5, 2010

AM I STRONG ENOUGH? Damn Straight!

AM I STRONG ENOUGH? Damn Straight!
And it’s time I start fighting. It’s been several months since I last wrote on my blog and figured an update is in order. The top three questions people want to know, but may be afraid to ask goes like this. 1. Are you still smoking? 2. Are you back to normal? 3. Are you seeking legal advice? My answers are as follows:
  • No
  • Pretty much, and
  • Damn straight!
So am I still smoking? It’s ironic but Chantix worked for me! I quit smoking within a week of taking Chantix and have not had a smoke since. Last night, I went out with a friend to watch the Blackhawks get their butt kicked on TV. This event would have been the perfect opportunity to “sneak a puff” but it didn’t enter my mind. What does enter my mind when I think about smoking is being locked up in a psyc unit. My mind goes back to sitting in the activity area every morning when the nurse making her morning round to administer anti-psychotic drugs would also pass out Nicoderm patches. It seems that many people in the psyc unit that week were also smokers. But not me! I had taken Chantix, so smoking was no longer on Tina’s “messed up” mind!

So am I back to normal? Pretty much so. This past Wednesday, I had an appointment with my Psychiatrist who specializes in addiction medicine. My panic attacks have been non-existent for the past several months, which could be partially due to the anti-depression medicine I take. I also keep a bottle of Ativan pills in my purse as a “back up plan.” Ativan is a prescription medicine that belongs to a class called benzodiazepines which are used for sedation and anxiety disorders. I have not touched this bottle since January but I keep it in my purse as a type of “back up plan” in case my mind should go wacko again. It gives me a sort of “peace of mind” just knowing it’s there. The good news is that my doctor doesn’t need to see me again until July, at which time it’s my goal to completely get off of any type of anti-depression medicine. I find it quite pathetic that I’ve traded smoking, for Chantix, for anti-depression medicine. But the good news is that I’m one step closer to being completely back to normal.

So am I seeking legal advice? Damn straight!
A few weeks ago I met with an attorney. We are in the process of completing the paperwork so I can be part of the Chantix Product Liability Litigation: MDL-2092. I will be one of the individual plaintiffs in this Master consolidated complaint, in the United States District Court of Alabama. This complaint was officially filed on March 23, 2010 at 8:48 AM and I was given the 95 page document to review. What lies below, was copied directly from the complaint:

Clinical Trials Reveal Serious Risk: From a 52-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study conducted between October 2003 and March 2005, Defendant discovered that 20 out of 251 patients on CHANTIX experienced “psychiatric disorders,” while only 3 patients out of 126 on a placebo experienced those disorders. The relative risk that CHANTIX patients would suffer psychiatric disorders was more than three-fold that of patients on placebo, a relative risk that was significant both clinically and statistically. This fact was not disclosed in the publication of the study, on which Kathryn Williams, then employed by Pfizer Global Research and Development, was the lead author.

Further, “three participants experienced serious adverse events during the non-treatment phase. One study participant, a woman in the CHANTIX group experienced suicidal ideation which resulted in hospitalization 11 days after completing the CHANTIX treatment. She had no previously diagnosed mental and/or psychological disorder. The study investigator considered this case to be attributable to the study drug [CHANTIX].”

In the 4th quarter of 2007, CHANTIX accounted for 988 serious injuries in the U.S. reported to the FDA, more than any other individual drug in this time period. By comparison, the FDA received a median of 5 reports of serious injury for 769 different drugs in the 4th quarter. Only 35 drugs accounted for 100 or more reports.

By July 1, 2009, the FDA reported that CHANTIX accounted for 4,762 reports of serious psychiatric events since CHANTIX’S 2006 approval. Of these, 188 reported attempted suicide and 98 reported completed suicide. Many of the cases received and reviewed by the FDA were reported for patients without any prior history of psychiatric illness.

Can you imagine how ANGRY I was while reading this document? I would have never rolled the dice and taken this drug if I had known just half the information disclosed in this document. How dare Pfizer, the manufacturer of CHANTIX, put this mind altering drug on the market? Of course I know the answer to this question …. It’s all about profits. It’s not about the people whose life could be turned upside down by this drug. It’s not about the families left behind due to suicide.

AM I STRONG ENOUGH? Damn Straight! And it’s time I start fighting. If you are so inclined, help me with my ONE GOAL …. To get CHANTIX off the market. Share this story with anyone you know that is fighting to stop smoking and considering taking CHANTIX.