Concerns have surfaced that Chantix, the stop-smoking drug manufactured by Pfizer, may have led to musician Carter Albrecht’s bizarre and tragic death on September 5, 2007. That rare psychotic and suicidal behavior are possible side effects of Chantix is mentioned in extreme fine print of the original box insert. However, large-print, pharmacy handouts given to users of the drug warning of nausea, changes in dreaming, constipation, gas, and vomiting with the use of Chantix do not mention rare psychotic and suicidal behavior.
Albrecht was keyboard player from pop-music group Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. Albrecht was also a singer, songwriter and guitar player. On the cusp of a solo career with a solo album in the works, the 34-year-old was poised to break out on his own when a doctor warned Albrecht he might lose his soulful voice if he didn’t ditch cigarettes. So Albrecht started taking the stop-smoking drug Chantix.
Those closest to Albrecht believe the drug contributed to his death.His girlfriend Ryann Rathbone said that almost immediately after starting the drug, he started having vivid, often-frightening dreams – a known side effect of the medication. “Nightmare kind of, hallucination kind of dreams where you don’t know if it’s real or not,” Rathbone said. About a week into taking Chantix, after an evening of cocktails, a hallucinating Albrecht started lashing out at his confused girlfriend physically and verbally.
On the night of September 5, 2007, Albrecht was frantically banging on a neighbor’s door when the neighbor, concerned for his own safety, fired a shot through the door which struck and killed Albrecht.
Months earlier people had started posting concerns about Chantix online. There were reports of suicide. “I thought I was losing my mind,” wrote one poster. Another described a “super depressed meltdown.”
There are 3 million Americans taking Chantix now, and according to Pfizer there have been no other reports of violence related to Chantix. Pfizer said it is investigating the case and says it is committed to the safety of the product.
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