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Today the Washington Times and ABC News are reporting that
soldiers returning from Iraq are being used as test patients for
medications that have been linked to serious adverse reactions. According to reports,
the V.A. is offering cash incentives to entice returning soldiers to
participate in studies. In one of the most disturbing cases, it took the VA
over three months to notify the veterans of a link to severe nueropsychiatric events associated with Pfizer’s controversial anti-smoking medication Chantix.
The warning was not issued until after one veteran taking the medication was
nearly gunned down by police while suffering from a psychotic episode allegedly induced
by Chantix.

Many of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan
suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are in a very fragile
state of mind when the initially get back to the US. Taking advantage of
soldiers in this condition is simply unacceptable. The label of Chantix was updated
in February to advise patients that the drug may induce thoughts of suicide and
trigger even latent mental health conditions to resurface. To subject veterans
in such delicate mental condition to a medication that has been linked to
mental problems is tragedy waiting to happen.

In all, nearly 1,000 veterans with PTSD were enrolled in the
study to test different methods of ending smoking, with 143 using Chantix.
Twenty-one veterans reported adverse effects from the drug, including one who
suffered suicidal thoughts, the three-month investigation by The Times and ABC
News found.

[Arthur] Caplan, who reviewed the consent and notification forms for the study
at the request of The Times and ABC News, said the VA deserved an “F”
and that it has an obligation to end the study, given the vulnerability of
veterans with PTSD and the known side effects of Chantix. “Continuing it
doesn’t make any ethical sense,” he said.

Late last month Chantix was removed from the list acceptable
medications for pilots and air traffic controllers after a non-profit
foundation released a study further affirming suspected adverse reactions
associated with the drug.

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