Champix reviews: Australia bites back

“If there was a drug on the market that caused some users to lose their right leg it would be withdrawn immediately. Because Champix affects your inner core and for that reason its effects are invisible, the symptoms are explained away as a mental issue. In terms of the pharmaceutical industry it is the perfect cover for a drug that is subsidized and earning its maker billions of dollars in revenue.”

By Chris Holmes

*Update: If you or a loved one has suffered a bad reaction to Champix and you are based in the U.K., you can report it to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) here. The more people do that the clearer the true picture will become. Protect others! Report it.*

Just before I get onto this post, here’s the latest Champix review from Kara:  “I have been on champix for only 6 days now, and in my opinion that is 6 days too long.  I have had, in this time alone a ridiculous change in my mental state.  Never had problems besides some depression in my early 20′s, and I feel like I’ve changed in just one week!  I am constantly agitated, irritable and angry ALL of the time.  Something happened the other day that made me question this drug; something so out of character it scared me!  I got in to an argument with my sister’s husband, and literally snapped!  I struck him with a leather strap 3 times, so hard it left bruises!  He just stood there stunned, and all I could think was that I wanted to kill him!  He was stunned because it was like a TOTALLY different person!  I was shocked at myself, and scared; I totally lost control, and I attribute it FULLY to this drug!  I’m a very happy person normally.
The other thing is I can’t stop eating! I go to the gym 5 times a week, and am generally very healthy (besides the smoking), but I haven’t been able to stop eating the past 5 days!!!
Today was my last day on this evil drug. NO MORE!”

The phrase “totally out of character” just keeps cropping up again and again with this drug, doesn’t it?  And what if there had been a knife to hand – or a firearm?  “…all I could think was that I wanted to kill him!”  Ladies and gentlefolk, that is NOT caused by just needing a ciggie.  And that’s after just six days on the drug.  Whew! That’s scary.

Back in 2008, I was contributing information about The Evil Champix and to a website called Australian Women Online and Tim Wilkinson posted several times about his own horrible experience with the drug. This week he posted this message on Truth Will Out:

“Hi.
I left a post on the Womens site on Champix in 2008, I have done extensive research into the drug and also how it was tested, how it was given the ‘all clear’ in Australia and the rules and regulations that govern its perscription.
I have received a number of emails that detail the horror stories of people who have taken Champix with adverse results.
I have also extensively researched the possible legal action that could be taken against Pfizer.
Pfizer will tie up any legal action against them in the courts for years, this will also be dependent on individuals’ medical records, if they can tie up a country (Nigeria) in the international courts for more than a decade…
I have found a legal recourse against them that is foolproof and will scare them to death! If you or anyone close to you has been badly affected by Champix (Chantix in the U.S.) please contact me at [email protected]

If you are not from Australia please put your country of origin in the subject line of your message.”

So I sent Tim the following reply:

“Hi Tim, thanks for your latest message! At first I reproduced it on all the Champix posts on Truth Will Out, but then took out the email address immediately as I thought I had better check with you before publicising that quite so broadly. I wasn’t sure if you meant that I should contact you, or anyone who thought they’d been injured by Champix.

Call me paranoid, but I think it would be a good idea to keep the details of the legal recourse you have discovered out of this email exchange, at least for the time being. So, is it okay for me to provide a link on the various Champix pages of the site so that other sufferers can contact you directly? I really hope you’ve found a way to hit Pfizer where it hurts, they certainly deserve it.

best regards,
Chris”

This was Tim’s response, and it rather looks as though he means business:

Hi Chris.
Please post my address as many times as you wish, from my original post to now I have been sent and heard dozens of horror stories that has surprised me as to not only the commonness of adverse reactions to Champix but also the overwhelmingly similar symptoms that people have had.

I now think that the time has come to take action!

Getting recourse from Pfizer will not take away the pain that people have endured but it will go a very long way to helping people know/understand that they are not alone, and what they went through has nothing to do with strength of character nor more importantly the state of their mental health.

If there was a drug on the market that caused some users to lose their right leg it would be withdrawn immediately. Because Champix affects your inner core and for that reason its effects are invisible, the symptoms are explained away as a mental issue. In terms of the pharmaceutical industry it is the perfect cover for a drug that is subsidized and earning its maker billions of dollars in revenue.

I invite all those who have an adverse experience with Champix (including loved ones and friends of victims) to contact me via email so that I can collate information with the view to setting up meetings in Australia. I ask that any outside of Aus keep themselves posted or contact me with the subject line being their location.

I can make no promises as to the outcome, ‘but better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all’!

[email protected].com.au

We’re not going to fail, Tim. Already the French Health Minister has stopped using public money to fund Champix on safety grounds, and that’s just the start. I only wish we could get Champix (Chantix in the U.S.) banned today, so that no-one else has to die, or suffer like you did, but unfortunately – thanks to Pfizer’s lies and deception about the true extent of the dangers that have already occurred – there will be more, because Pfizer will not withdraw this killer drug until they are FORCED to do so.  So let’s get on with it, eh?  More and more influencial voices are calling for Champix/Chantix to be banned, we are certainly not on our own in this.

***Update, 31st August 2011:  Since this email exchange I have tried on several occasions to contact Tim, and have been unable to do so.  Since all these attempts were in the latter half of August, this may mean nothing at all – he may be on holiday, or similarly indisposed.  If anyone has tried to contact Tim during the past six weeks and has had similar difficulties, please let me know via the Truth Will Out Contact Page.  I’ll keep trying and keep you posted here.

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Ageism and the Chemical Cosh

When I first commented on this a year or so ago, I was horrified by the estimate that in the previous five years, these medications were reckoned to have killed about seven hundred people – mainly through causing strokes and pneumonia. Now the estimates are between 1000 and 2000 elderly people being killed in this way every year yet the N.I.C.E. guidelines are that unless the patient is psychotic, these drugs should not be used to sedate them. They are so powerful that they are now being spoken of as a kind of “chemical cosh”, and the accusation is that this dangerous practice is simply to make these people less troublesome and easier to handle.

by Chris Holmes

Twice before I have mentioned the scandal of people of a certain age who are more frail and confused than they used to be being knocked senseless by GPs with the use of powerful anti-psychotic drugs, and now this scandal is back in the news again.

Deliberate Mis-Prescribing

No-one is suggesting that the job of a GP is easy.  A great number of the decisions a GP will make when considering whether to prescribe a certain medication or whether not to, will be a judgement call, and it is possible to get that wrong.  That’s why they have advisory bodies like N.I.C.E. to give them guidelines.

The trouble is, quite a lot of GPs are ignoring the guidelines.  These drugs are designed for people who are psychotic, but of the 180,000 people currently being prescribed these drugs in care homes, it is reckoned that about two-thirds of them aren’t psychotic – they are confused, suffering from some form of dementia or are just agitated about the transition of going into care.

The Telegraph’s Health Correspondent Beezy Marsh wrote:

The findings emerged in Keep Taking the Medicine, a report by Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for older people, who obtained information through parliamentary questions.

Last night he said: “The chemical management of older people is a continuing scandal.

“It denies older people dignity and robs them of a better quality of life. Pressures on care providers are not an excuse for inappropriate medication.

When I first commented on this a year or so ago, I was horrified by the estimate that in the previous five years, these medications were reckoned to have killed about seven hundred people – mainly through causing strokes and pneumonia.  Now the estimates are between 1000 and 2000 elderly people being killed in this way every year yet the N.I.C.E. guidelines are that unless the patient is psychotic, these drugs should not be used to sedate them.  They are so powerful that they are now being spoken of as a kind of “chemical cosh”, and the accusation is that this dangerous practice is simply to make these people less troublesome and easier to handle.

The Telegraph again:

Frank Ursell, chief executive of the Registered Nursing Home Association, said accused Mr Burstow of “pointing the finger of blame”. He said: “We want to disassociate this idea of these drugs being used as a chemical cosh, because it is just not true.

“If you are running a home, you do not want people wandering around in a sleepy state. They can be useful to help people settle in, because it can be very traumatic for elderly people when they first arrive, to bridge that gap.

“It is the GP who prescribes the drug and to suggest that there is inappropriate prescribing is a scurrilous attack on GPs.”

“Help people settle in”?  Settle in to what, a shroud?  And this is not just a “suggestion” that the drugs are being mis-prescribed – clearly the guidelines are being ignored which is causing the deaths of over a thousand people a year!

Look, if someone is upset or agitated, or having trouble adjusting to a new way of life, you could just give ’em a Valium or something like that.  You don’t have to put them on a tablet designed for something completely different that also has the slight drawback of killing a thousand people a year, thus deliberately ignoring the official guidelines that tell you not to do that.  Forgive me, but that is not “a scurrilous attack on GP’s”.  And yes, it is “pointing the finger of blame” because GP’s ARE to blame for that one!  There are times, Mr Ursell, when pointing the finger of blame is entirely appropriate, and when GPs cause unnecessary deaths by choosing to ignore the official guidelines – not just once or twice but in thousands of cases annually, then clearly the blame lies WITH THEM… not with N.I.C.E., not with the care homes, not even in this case with the drug companies who manufacture the damn stuff, but the individuals that sign those prescriptions.

I did call it, last time, a Licence to Kill.  GPs know that if any of these old folk die as a result, no-one is going to sue them personally.  How is this different from Shipman’s arrogant assumption that he should remain untouchable if he killed people off with the inappropriate use of medication?  And it is clearly ageism: would they even dream of deliberately knocking out any other section of the population en masse with these drugs?  It isn’t really to help them settle in, otherwise it would be used on children during their first few weeks at boarding school.  It isn’t really to manage difficult behaviour, otherwise the same drugs would be used on half the prison population, but no – these nasty, deadly drugs are only being mis-prescribed to the elderly.  So Paul Burstow is right when he states that the chemical management of older people is a scandal.

I make no apologies for once more making the point that people like Edzard Ernst, who spend so much time atacking complementary medicine or trying to damn it with faint praise say nothing – NOTHING – about things like this, even though Ernst used to be actively involved in the work of the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency!  No, conventional medicine and general practitioners can kill as many people as they like, that’s fine by Ernst.  But he’ll be very quick to warn you about things like acupuncture or homoeopathy… as if that is where the danger lies!

This is just one of many examples that prove that the overall drive is to medicate, medicate, medicate.  Not all doctors are pill happy but too many clearly are, and it is now killing people in vast numbers but for some really scary reason, the trend is to prescribe even more despite that, and the guidelines, well… they might as well be in the bin.

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