Wednesday, November 22, 2006

WSJ on Pfizer's Chantix Antismoking Pill

Article in the Wall Street Journal -- Marketing New Antismoking Pill Poses Challenges for Pfizer, by Scott Hensley:

For Pfizer Inc., the easiest part of marketing its new antismoking pill may have been winning Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug in May.

Chantix, the first medicine in a decade to help smokers quit, would seem a surefire blockbuster. Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., and about 70% of the nation's 45 million smokers say they want to quit, according to government estimates. In addition, existing treatments work poorly, and Chantix got speedy FDA approval in large part because of its superior performance.

But in launching the drug, Pfizer has had to negotiate a marketing obstacle course that illustrates some of the challenges facing the industry, as well as the idiosyncrasies of the huge antismoking market. Aware of increased consumer cynicism and unfulfilled promises made for smoking treatments in the past, Pfizer has adopted a softer sell that it hopes will build Chantix steadily over time. Meanwhile, because insurers are slow to cover smoking treatments, it has priced Chantix so that consumers will be willing to pay for it themselves.


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I and a co-worker started on Chantix to stop smoking. We both remained on the medication for approximately 6 weeks but discontinued due to gastric reflux and severe joint pain. Two days after discontinuing the medication my systolic blood pressure became extremely elevated, I experienced severe joint and muscle pain, severe headaches, difficulty concentrating, chest pain, SOB, and numerous other difficulties. These were so severe I ended up in emergent care extremely hypertensive. My co-worker also experienced elevated systolic pressure and joint pain. It has been 3 weeks now that we have both discontinued the Chantix and we are still suffering effects. I believe this drug has the potential to be harmful and more study of side-effects needs to be done. (Both my co-worker and I are nurses)

Posted by: Julie Pfaff | Feb 27, 2007 6:12:28 AM

My husband took Chantix for 2-1/2 weeks, stopped because of severe joint, muscle, & gum pain. He also had a resting heartrate of 163. We have been to the Dr and Dentist, with no relief. It's been 3 weeks since the last pill and he still feeling horrible and still having bad gum/jaw pain. Any ideas?

Posted by: Lisa | Mar 14, 2007 1:52:37 PM

after taking Chantix for 16 days: hospitalized with very high BP, edema, potassium retention,conjective heart failure and renal failure...prior to Chantix my labs were normal... currently under a nephroligist care with a glomular filtration rate of 25... was 66.

Posted by: David | Apr 9, 2007 3:12:52 PM

After taking Chantix approx 2 months, my BP went crazy through the roof. Ended up in ER, but seem to be okay now. I couldn't find anything that indicated Chantix caused the problem, but I stopped taking it immediately. I don't know if joint pain was part of the reaction, because I have RA and probably wouldn't have noticed a difference.

Posted by: Linda Kemp | Apr 18, 2007 8:41:05 AM

I recently started taking Chantix. I have an old back injury. I thought the pain I was having was due to that. So I kept taking Chantix. I am now on week 4. I woke this morning in horrible hip and back and neck and arm pain. I did not take Chantix this morning. I felt like my kidneys were going to explode. I do not know if this is because of the Chantix. But I have now discontinued the drug.

Posted by: Karen | Apr 20, 2007 4:19:48 PM

after being off chantix for one week I ended up in the hospital and had to have my gallbladder removed. my wife started and ended chantix one week to the day from when I did and one week to the day of being off it she too ended up in the hospital. They thought she had chrones but turns out she too has to have her gallbladder removed.


Posted by: Robert Bonds | Apr 30, 2007 5:27:59 AM

Had to stop Chantix after a couple of weeks because of severe joint pain and heart palpitations. I was in a fog, no energy and could sleep for days. Still have joint pain after 2 wks of not taking Chantix and still don't have any energy to do anything anymore.

Posted by: Ann Marie | May 3, 2007 8:03:37 PM

i to am having bad side effects from chantix. some symptoms include edema all over, very fatigued, difficulty breathing (scary), swollen abdomen to a large amount, water retention, body aches and pain,the list goes on (too many to list). i am having to monitor liver enzymes (was 30 prior to taking chantix. 150 last week after taking chantix for a few weeks. and liver enzymes 242 as of yesterday-a big increase within little less than a week.) the doctor has put me off work for a few days. I stopped taking this medication 4/25/07 - i believe that's the date. i stopped when i began to experience edema and difficulty breathing. i don't feel well at all. i am basically a healthy person. i was not on any other medication. now i am having to take lasix and potassium to help with decreasing the water retention. its not doing a whole lot right now. i am still swollen and smothering. i have had a major weight gain. i have to monitor my weight daily. i am very angry because i should have been completely educated prior to this medication being prescribed. i would not have taken this if i knew it had the slightest chance of making me this sick. i did not know of any of these side effects.

Posted by: teresa | May 4, 2007 8:23:36 AM

For anyone interested there is a blog going on at concerning bone/joint pain after taking Chantix. It is similiar to this only probably over a hundred blogs. We need to get some answers to how we can reverse what we have done to our bodies with Chantix. I found the site by accident while I was looking for some relief from "gas" from Chantix never expecting or suspecting in a million years that was the cause of the increase in my pain. Doctors don't know anything other than the fact that they were handed Chantix to push to the patients. Don't waste your time with asking them "why or what to do".

Posted by: Candice Hudson | May 8, 2007 8:45:24 AM

My husband and i took chantix, beginning in march 2007.
we followed the instructions and we did stop smoking, although it took longer than the ten to fourteen days recommended. i believe we stopped at the end of the first month. we continued to take the chantix and yes, it was a tremendous help.
a week ago, we began to forget to take our pills. our doctor had told us that weaning off was NOT necessary, so no need to wean after we were done the 12 weeks. since we were forgetting to take them and we were smoke free for 8 weeks, we stopped. neither one of us is having a good time. my husband is back to craving cigarettes and i have joint pain, along with numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. i am not depressed but i do have some bladder issues, including frequency, urgency, pressure. especially at night. while on chantix, we both had extremely bizarre and vivid dreams and insomnia.
the insomnia has passed as have the vivid dreams once we stopped taking the drug. i would expect it will take at least two months for me to feel normal again.
the question much responsibility belongs to chantix and how much responsibility belongs to the cessation of putting extreme amounts of nasty toxins and chemicals in our systems when we smoked. i would imagine it will take a year or so for the body to heal itself.
simply put, i don't think we know what normal is, since we have forced our bodies to adapt to the chemicals in cigs and now to the chemical in chantix. we have two things in common. we smoked, which contains all kinds of chemicals from which we need to withdraw on a molecular level and we took chantix, which also has its side effects.

i think we're screwed for a few months, at least.

Posted by: Shoshona | May 22, 2007 9:17:10 AM

I started Chantix on February 1st. I am still not smoking. I am thankful for that. But the adverse side effects were just awful. I think I had everything that everybody else here has posted. But when I finished my 3 months? Wow, the cravings came back big time. So I got another month's worth of Chantix and am taking them now. The cravings went away immediately. What does this mean? Should we be tapering off?

If Pfizer really cared they would have a website where everybody could write in. Wouldn't you think they would want to know? Has anyone even seen Chantix advertised? I haven't, I just heard about it from my Doctor. And now he is telling me I shouldn't take it any more. That really ticks me off. Why didn't he do a little more research on Chantix before he started prescribing it to everybody?

Posted by: Churchill | May 22, 2007 6:00:41 PM

I started taking chantix in Nov.06 and quit smoking immediately with some shakiness and anxiety which I thought was normal. It's June 07 and I am still having terrible anxiety and real angry feelings (strange) for me. I have also had enlarged liver, abdomonal edema and pain. Low thyroid level, very short of breath just since I used the chantix. I know that it had something to do with these problems appearing within a month of taking the medication. Pizer really needs to print more information for the patient with side effects or educate these doctors prescribing the medication. Yes it worked for the smoking and I haven't wanted a cigarette since I quit, but is all the other problems worth it?

Posted by: Alice Handeguand | Jun 4, 2007 10:12:00 AM

I'm glad I found this sight. I thought I was going nuts or just getting old. Every joint and muscle in my body hurts and I bruise so easily now. I'm not weaning off, I'm just quitting as of today. I think they should warn you of all the side effects, not just a few. The joint pain one is a biggy!

Posted by: Marilyn | Jun 4, 2007 10:55:49 PM

Started taking chantix 8 days ago. within two my neck started swelling increasing over days to my jaw and in to my shoulders.

Posted by: heather | Jun 9, 2007 7:23:19 AM

I took Chantix for 2-1/2 weeks (quit taking it today). I have such severe hip and back pain and am taking Motrin every 4 hours. Without the Motrin, I cannot walk or even lay down. I had healthy bones prior to taking the drug. Chantix isn't right for everyone, as the same holds true for any medication; however, my concern is whether or not Chantix has caused permanent damage. Word of caution for anyone taking it--if you have ANY side effects from this drug, then stop taking it. My side effects started after 3 days.

Posted by: Terri | Jun 9, 2007 4:28:19 PM

Been on Chantix for 7 weeks now, not smoking and will keep it that way. Only side effect has been farting up a storm, wild dreams and some fatigue. I feel for all of you with bad symptoms right now, but you need to realize that when you started taking Chantix you also stopped smoking, So you added one chemical to your body and you suddenly stopped inhaling/ingesting HUNDREDS of chemicals which were in cigarettes. Who is to say that some symptoms are from withdrawal not just from nicotine, but also from all the other added chemicals in cigarettes. I know that my digestive tract is recovering from cigarettes (didn't we allexperience the laxative effects of a smoke?).
For me Chantix has been a Godsend, for the first time in 25 years have i not smoked for 7 weeks, something patches, acupuncture, laser, hypnosis, gum , Zyban etc etc has never given me.
Like with all medications some will have side effect, but the major side effect of smoking is death.
Allow your body to heal, watch what you eat, drink plenty of fluids, and if you can tolerate Chantix, please take it, to quit smoking.
Also you need to stop smoking when on Chantix.....set a date within a week of starting the meds, dont start the meds without that commitment... you will fail otherwise. Peace

Posted by: Jop | Jun 13, 2007 1:38:22 PM

I have been on Chantix for 3 weeks and have quit smoking. The first week I got a sore throat and every lypmh node from ear, jaw, neck and shoulders swelled up. I went to the same doc.(that gave me the meds). He said it was bacerial infection. After being on antibiotics for a week, It got worse. They put me on another type , it did clear up. But my throat is still sore and lyphm nodes are still slighty oversized. If feel sick and it won't go away. Heartburn, consitipation, hip pain on a 33 y.o old women , I can handle.. But being sick will drive me crazy. I do seam to be emotional detached to family and work. The medicine does work, but is it work what it may cause later. Another person who has taken this med, just lost his 2 fingers and 2 different doctors says it is from this drug. We must find out before it is too late. I am keeping up on this. So should you. I have 2 kids that I would like to keep holding hands with.

Posted by: Angela Myer | Jun 23, 2007 12:14:11 PM

While taking Chantix, I experienced euphoria, lethargy, and severe dissociation. As soon as I stopped taking it (due to joint paint) I experienced severe depression, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, near panic attacks, complete inability to concentrate, forgetfullness, and agitation. 5 months later I am still having trouble with my memory, and it has taken 3 combined drugs to help the mood problems I experienced. Thankfully, those problems have improved. I did not make it to the quit date due to the joint pain...I had to be able to get up and go to work. I wish I had never taken this drug.

Posted by: Brenda | Jun 24, 2007 12:05:49 PM

I too took chantix only for a week and I ended up in the hospital. I had a very low platelet count, high sugar and high liver levels in the 1000.

I think this drug is a miracle for some and a very bad thing for otehrs. Just like all meds there are pro's and con's

Posted by: Robin | Jun 24, 2007 12:15:22 PM

Took Chantix for one month. Experienced side effects. After quitting the medicine I began having dizziness and heart palpatations currently having expensive heart test done and none of this occured until I had taken Chantix. I think that this medication has caused my current and ongoing symptoms.

Posted by: Shannon | Jun 27, 2007 4:45:43 PM

First of all, even my doctor who put me on Chantix couldn't figure out why I was having severe crippling joint pain! She even tested me for Lyme disease. Additionally, I had to go to a cardiologist for an abnormal heartbeat, and I am also having really bad edema! Phizer never disclosed these side effects to anyone!

I started taking Chantix December 20 2006, and took it for 3.5 months. I have been off chantix for 3 months now, but I still cannot move at all without severe joint pain. I spend most of the day sitting in a chair because it hurts to move any part of my body. Muscle weakness and soreness is also a factor.

About 2 months ago, I searched the internet, using every major search engine, to see if there was any connection to the Chantix and the pain, but no connection came up on my searches.
Today I searched again, and that is how I came to this site. Thank you, finally, now I realize that it's not just me! Does anyone here know if or when this joint pain is expected to go away? I am gaining too much weight from lack of normal activity.


Posted by: Jane | Jul 4, 2007 8:19:00 AM

within the first hour of taking my very first pill, my bp went through the roof and i felt like i was going to have a heart attack. i haven't had another pill since, and it is 3 days later, and i still am having high anxiety and back pain.

Posted by: brian | Jul 4, 2007 5:08:50 PM

I have been on chantix now for about 3 weeks. Over the last few days I have noticed increased pain in my legs and hips, nothing I haven't dealt with before as I have a history of psoriatic arthritis. I actually have been pain free for the last 6 weeks, as my doctor and I have been working on a new treatment and it has helped me tremendously. I was so excited!! I decided to quit and doc put me on this "miracle drug". As of last night, I am in so much pain, I am beside myself. I feel as badly as I did when I first became ill w/the arthritis 9 years ago.

My thought is this... Maybe Chantix has a reaction in people with arthritis or a pre-disposition of Arthrits?? Hence why some of us are having so much problem now that we are taking the drug.

Not sure about all of you, but from what I can read, I am hearing that you are as angry and frustrated as I am this morning.

These drug companies need to more honest about side effects. You can't tell me out of all the people they tested this drug on, they did not realize this could be a problem??? It's all about the almighty Drug dollar.

I am going to wean off this med now, and start on niccorette or whatever if I need help to continue not smoking, but this is really insane. I am not sue-happy, but I will tell you this. I won't hesitate if I don't pull out of this flare.

Posted by: Cassandra | Jul 10, 2007 7:28:15 AM

It should be assumed that side effects go away after we are finished taking the medication! Honestly, if I knew that I would suffer for an underterminable or indefinite length of time afterward, I would have never agreed to using Chantix.
Not fair!
For all we know this could be permanent! So we all were cheated by Pfizer because non-disclosure! I don't want their blood money in a lawsuit, but I do want them to stop hurting people by scamming them into being guinea pigs!

I have been suffering with joint pain from head to toe, depression, major weight gain, muscle weakness, memory loss, palpitations and blurred vision for about 7 months now, and I want to know if this is permanent or not!

Now I hear that they are marketing this Chantix to alcoholics and gamblers too!

Posted by: Andrea | Jul 10, 2007 8:54:18 PM

I'm on my 4th day of Chantix. Been having really bad "ants in my pants" feelings for 2 days now. I can't sit still!! I'm also having a hard time concentrating. I'm afraid of joint pain because I just had cervical spine surgery March '07. I definitely don't need any more pain right now. Should I quit taking them?!?

Posted by: Laurel | Jul 11, 2007 10:46:22 AM

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