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2,627 Current Plaintiffs in the Chantix MDL Are Affected By a Judge’s Decision

U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson issued an order for the Chantix multidistrict litigation (MDL) currently underway in Alabama. The order was issued on July 24, 2012 and partially grants and partially denies a request from the manufacturer of Chantix, Pfizer. All 2,627 current MDL plaintiffs are affected by Judge Johnson’s decision. Arguments offered by a Chantix attorney are also impacted as the ruling determines that the 2009 black box warning label was adequate to warn patients of potential side effects of the smoking cessation drug.

According to a 2012 pretrial order, the first MDL lawsuit will begin on October 22, 2012. The second case is scheduled to commence January 22, 2013.

Pfizer is alleged to have failed to conduct sufficient research into the side effects of Chantix

Chantix (verenicline) works in helping smokers quit by blocking the receptors in the brain that are associated with the pleasurable sensations triggered by nicotine. The drug was approved in 2006, and months after it was first sold to the public, patients began reporting unusual behavior including aggressiveness and suicidal thoughts.

Not long after, lawsuits based on side effects of Chantix began to be filed. These lawsuits were later consolidated into an MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama where Judge Johnson presides.

Pfizer is alleged to have failed to conduct sufficient research into the drug and its side effects prior to putting the product on the market. This is denied by Pfizer. Between 2006 an 2009, the company issued a series of updates to the label, but in July of 2009, the FDA announced that Pfizer would add a black box warning to the Chantix label.

The warning label regarding psychiatric disorders is deemed adequate

In May 2012, Pfizer filed a Motion of Summary Judgment regarding the adequacy of their 2009 black box warning. Additionally, the manufacturer requested that all MDL plaintiffs who first took Chantix after the warning was issued in 2009 be dismissed from the MDL, if the black box warning were deemed adequate.

On July 23, 2012, Judge Johnson issued her decision via an order than granted part of the motion and denied another part. In the decision, she stated, “Said motion is granted to the extent that the court finds that the July 1, 2009, black box warning is adequate… to warn of the risk of neuropsychiatric complications in patients taking Chantix. The remainder of said motion is denied, without prejudice to the defendant’s right to file motions of summary judgment in individual cases regarding the running and/or expiration of the statute of limitations.”

In short, the warning label regarding psychiatric disorders was adequate, but even individuals who began taking the drug after July 2009 have the right to file a Chantix lawsuit.

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