Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pfizer Shares Plummet as Aviation Industry Prohibits Use of Chantix Anti-Smoking Drug

--trends + business + politics--

The public has spoken loudly about the failure of Pfizer to protect their interests from the anti-smoking drug Chantix. As we earlier reported, Chantix has been linked to suicide and depression for some time, but the continuing reports of serious accidents, vision problems, and heart trouble have now called for industry wide prohibition of the drug. In an unusual and bold move, the Federal Aviation Administration has outright prohibited the use of Chantix by all private and commercial pilots.

"It's prudent to deem the drug no longer acceptable for use," said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Les Dorr.

The flood of reports and the decision by U.S. aviation regulators has sent shares of the world's largest drug maker to their lowest level since 1997. Shares of the drugmaker fell 1.2 percent to $19.76 in after-hours trading Wednesday, after finishing regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange down 4 cents at $20.01. The drug brought in $277 million during the first quarter of 2008, but has since seen its prescriptions fall 5 percent, according to Bear Stearns analyst John Boris.

In February, the FDA warned about the risk of mood and behavior changes with Chantix and called for new warnings on the drug's label. But representative of Pfizer continued to argue on the risks of the drug - even as their own labels spelled out the warnings. Even as shares plummeted and an entire industry prohibited the drug, Pfizer maintained its ignorance of the scientific evidence and thousands of cases of lives harmed by the drug in the U.S. and abroad.

"When you've got the nicotine withdrawal along with Chantix, it's just very difficult to tell what is causing it," said Gretchen Dieck, Pfizer's senior vice president for safety and risk management.

FDA spokeswoman Susan Cruzan said the FDA was still investigating the drug's psychiatric effects. Wider reviews of new drugs like Chantix are critical to protect consumers. But the FDA simply responds to such critical necessity by simply saying...

"FDA currently does not have adequate staffing to conduct such reviews."

(Source: Reuters)

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