Vets Face Suicide Risk Thanks to VA Study

Despite U.S. Food and Drug Administration warnings, the Veterans Administration (VA) failed to alert 32,000 veterans using the smoking cessation drug, Chantix. Nearly 1,000 of the vets were "enrolled in the Chantix study suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had been recruited, with monthly $30 payments, for a behavioral study with the drug." The combination of PTSD and Chantix puts the vets at particularly high risk for suicidal or violent behavior. There was a three month lag between the link being discovered and the vets being notified. Despite that, the White House said the VA "is doing everything they can to be mindful of the safety of these veterans ... under wonderful leadership by Secretary Peake." Deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto said, "It hurts me to have anyone think we would treat our veterans as lab rats." The initial warning letter to the vets did not mention suicide specifically, but a new letter currently being drafted will. As CMD previously reported, Pfizer has been working to counter bad press about the drug.