BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge in north Alabama has set the first two trials stemming from more than 2,400 lawsuits filed nationwide against pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer over its stop-smoking product Chantix.
The United States Judicial Panel on Multistate Litigation consolidated the Chantix suits and assigned them to U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson.
Johnson has selected a few to be heard first. She has set a trial for Oct. 22 in a lawsuit filed by Duluth, Minn., resident July Ann Whitley over the suicide of her husband in November 2007.
Johnson set a Jan. 22, 2013, trial date for a suit by the estate of Sandra Corey, of Jacksonville, Ore., who died from a gunshot in July 2008.
Plaintiff attorney Kristian Rasmusssen told The Birmingham News (http://bit.ly/GPxtGY) that they intend to show a link between the suicides and Chantix.
"They thought they were taking a safe medication that would help them stop smoking and live longer. Unfortunately, they committed suicide, and we expect the evidence to show Chantix caused it," he said.
Rasmussen is with the Birmingham-based law firm of Cory, Watson, Crowder and DeGaris, which is the lead plaintiff firm in the cases.
Pfizer issued a statement saying it stands by Chantix as a safe, effective treatment for adults who want to stop smoking. The company said it has been prescribed to 15 million smokers, including 8 million in the U.S.
"Pfizer remains confident in the strong science demonstrating the safety and efficacy of Chantix," the company said.
While the first two cases deal with suicides, the vast majority of the more than 2,400 suits deal with other issues.
Johnson's order said the third case she will schedule for trial was filed by Billy Bedsole Jr. of Demopolis, who said he suffered insomnia, anxiety, severe depression and other health problems after taking Chantix.