Pfizer’s lawyers took their best shot at winning these cases with the only strategy that will work: keep the cases away from a jury that will weigh the evidence.
This strategy took a hit on Tuesday when the MDL judge overseeing the 2,500 Chantix lawsuits in federal court shot down Pfizer’s motion to exclude the general causation and liability opinions of five plaintiff experts.
Judge Inge Prytz Johnson ruled that while Pfizer has interesting arguments, they are jury arguments, not “the expert should be excluded” arguments. I’m not sure a jury will be too impressed with hypertechnical attacks on these experts’ methodology as long as they swallow the big picture: these drugs put users at risk for homicidal and suicidal behavior that they would not have committed if there were not on the drugs. It is that simple.
Sure, the judge will not allow these experts to testify to what Pfizer’s people were thinking when they were misleading the FDA (whoops, I just did it myself).
Our firm is not handling Chantix lawsuits in 2023
Chantix Lawsuit History
Chantix is a prescription medication used to help people quit smoking. It was approved by the FDA in 2006 and quickly became a popular treatment option for smokers looking to quit. Because it seemed to work, and smoking is hard to quit, as anyone reading this knows. But the drug was quickly linked to reports of severe psychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts and behavior.
The first reports of Chantix-related suicide and other psychiatric side effects began to emerge in 2007. In 2008, the FDA issued a safety warning about the drug, noting that it had received reports of suicidal ideation, suicidal behavior, and completed suicides in patients taking Chantix. The FDA also required the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer, to add a black box warning to the drug’s labeling, indicating the risk of severe psychiatric side effects.
Despite the warning, the reports of Chantix-related suicides and other psychiatric side effects continued to mount. In 2009, the FDA launched a safety review of the drug, and in 2011, it required Pfizer to conduct a large-scale clinical trial to further evaluate its safety.
Throughout this period, numerous lawsuits were filed against Pfizer by patients and their families affected by Chantix-related psychiatric side effects. The lawsuits alleged that Pfizer knew or should have known about the risk of serious psychiatric side effects but failed to adequately warn patients and healthcare providers.
The Chantix lawsuits were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in federal court in Alabama in 2012. Throughout the litigation, Pfizer faced thousands of claims from patients and their families, alleging that the drug had caused severe psychiatric side effects, including suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicides.
The MDL proceedings continued for several years, with both sides engaging in extensive discovery and motion practice. In 2013, Pfizer agreed to pay $273 million to settle approximately 80% of the lawsuits filed against it. The settlement included compensation for patients and their families affected by Chantix-related psychiatric side effects.
Our law firm settled a number of our cases. We are not handling Chantix lawsuits in 2023.