Champix Class ActionChampix Class Action

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McPhadden Samac Tuovi has commenced a proposed Class Action against Pfizer, Inc. and Pfizer Canada Limited relative to the smoking cessation drug Champix (varenicline).

The legal proceeding involves people who took Champix and allege that they developed psychological side effects that may have included attempted suicide. It is alleged that Pfizer failed to warn the public about the potential of these adverse side effects.

Champix is a smoking cessation drug that was introduced for distribution and sale in the Canadian market in or about April 2007. It is known commercially as “Chantix” in the United States.

In the first eight months following its introduction onto the Canadian market, Health Canada’s Adverse Drug Reaction Monitoring Program reported 107 cases of adverse neuropsychotic reactions. Accordingly, the Canadian product monograph was revised to indicate post-market reports of depressed mood, agitation, changes in behaviour, suicidal ideation and suicide.

On June 16, 2008, Health Canada noted that by April 30 2008, a total of 226 cases of neuropsychotic adverse events had been reported involving the use of Champix.

The motion to certify the action as a class proceeding was heard on May 29 and 30 2012.  The motion has been granted and the action has been certified as a duty to warn class action against Pfizer Canada Inc. under the Class Proceedings Act, 1992, S.O. 1992, c. 6.

The Court rendered its decision on June 21, 2012.  A copy of the Reasons for Decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice can be found HERE.

On November 23, 2012 the Divisional Court released its decision on Pfizer’s motion for leave to appeal from the Superior Court’s decision to certify this proceeding as a class action.  Madam Justice Swinton dismissed Pfizer’s motion.  This means that Pfizer will not be allowed to appeal the certification order.  A copy of the Divisional Court’s decision can be found HERE.

The Divisional Court’s decision effectively upholds the Ontario Superior Court of Justice's decision on June 21, 2012.

The class is defined as follows:

All persons in Canada: (a) who ingested Champix during the Class Period and (b) who while taking or after taking Champix to help them quit smoking experienced any of the following neuropsychiatric adverse events or psychiatric symptoms:

 

•  

Thoughts about suicide or dying or attempts to commit suicide

 

New or worse depression, anxiety or panic attacks

 

Feeling very agitated or restless

 

Acting aggressive, being angry or violent

 

Acting on dangerous impulses

 

An extreme increase in activity and talking (mania)

 

Abnormal thoughts or sensations

 

Seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations)

 

Feeling people are against you (paranoia)

 

Feeling confused

 

Other unusual changes in behaviour.

 

The “Family Class” is defined as follows:

All persons who by reason of his or her relationship to a member of the class are entitled to make claims under any of the Dependents Statutes in Canada as a result of the death or personal injury of such member of the Class (“Family Class”);

The “Class Period” is from April 2, 2007 until May 31, 2010.  In other words, anyone taking Champix prior to May 31, 2010 may qualify as a class member.

The four common issues are:

 

1)

Does using Champix increase the risk of the patient experiencing any of the following neuropsychiatric adverse events or psychiatric symptoms? 

   

Thoughts about suicide or dying, or attempts to commit suicide

   

New or worse depression, anxiety or panic attacks

   

Feeling very agitated or restless

   

Acting aggressive, being angry or violent

   

Acting on dangerous impulses

   

An extreme increase in activity and talking (mania)

   

Abnormal thoughts or sensations

   

Seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations)

   

Feeling people are against you (paranoia)

   

Feeling confused

   

Other unusual changes in behaviour.

 

2)

Did Pfizer Canada breach a duty to warn the users of Champix whose prescription came with the product monographs dated: (a) January 2007; (b) December 2007; or (c) May 2008?

 

3)

If Pfizer Canada breached a duty to warn, would this wrongdoing entitle a Class member pursuant to the doctrine of waiver of tort to a remedy measured by Pfizer Canada's gain from its wrongdoing?

 

4)

If Pfizer Canada breached a duty to warn would its conduct justify an award of punitive damages?

The action now proceeds to the common issue trial where it will be determined whether Pfizer, in fact, failed to warn Champix users of all the dangers of ingesting the drug.  The common issue trial is likely to be held in late 2013 or sometime in 2014.

If you would like further information about this Class Action, please contact us directly. All inquiries will be kept confidential. 

 

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Champix® is a registered trademark of Pfizer, Inc. and is used here only to identify the product in question.

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