Dangerous prescription-only drug available over the counter in Spain

LAST UPDATED: 8 Feb, 2012 @ 22:49
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Dangerous prescription-only drug available over the counter in Spain

EXCLUSIVE by Wendy Williams

AN anti-smoking drug linked to an increased risk of suicide is being openly sold over the counter in Andalucia.

The Olive Press can reveal that the drug Champix is widely available at chemists despite the manufacturer insisting it is ‘prescription-only’.

One British expat Karen Cox, 46, has demanded action after discovering the drug her pharmacist recommended is known to cause serious psychiatric problems.

“I found out that three people had died in Denmark since taking the drug this year,” explained Cox, who lives in Calahonda.

“But it turns out there have been suicide problems around the world from this drug for a number of years and some people have even committed murder.

“It is absolutely terrifying and I feel very strongly that people should be made aware.”

In fact, the Olive Press has discovered that Champix, made by Pfizer, caused 227 suicide attempts worldwide between May 2006 and December 2007.

Included in this number were 41 mentions of homicidal thoughts and 60 cases of paranoia.

Champix comes in tablet form and works by binding to nicotine receptors fooling the brain into thinking it’s had nicotine.

But a year after the ‘wonder drug’ was put on the market an investigation was launched into its safety after it was linked to 37 cases of suicide in America, forcing the manufacturer to put a warning on the label.

A lawsuit filed last year by the family of an American couple who died in a murder-suicide claimed the manufacturer knew as early as 2005 – two years before it issued a warning – that the drug carried a risk of psychiatric disorders but failed to disclose it in a 2007 study.

“These tablets are lethal and are sending people insane,” insisted Cox.

“In all other countries it is prescription only but in Spain you can just walk in to the chemist and pick it up.”

This however should NOT be the case, as Pfizer confirmed to the Olive Press.

Despite the European Commission approving the drug in 2006, the rules state that the drug should only be sold by prescription.

Karen Cox: "These tablets are lethal and sending people insane.”

“It certainly shouldn’t be available over the counter despite its success,” said Carol Adams, a therapist from Stop Smoking in Spain.

The specialist explained that she was extremely wary of the drug and was actually refused it by her doctor.

“He said I might not be able to cope with it during a life-changing event, which was moving to Spain,” she explained.

“It is important to know that people can react really badly to any chemical changes to the brain, particularly at times of stress. It is why doctors should be involved.”

Yet, this week the Olive Press, posing as a smoker wanting to kick the habit, found no less than four chemists on the Costa del Sol openly selling it over the counter.

Meanwhile the boss at La Cala Pharmacy, where Cox bought her prescription for 59 euros, admitted he had no idea why he was able to sell it over the counter in Spain when you need a prescription everywhere else in Europe.

“We don’t decide. There are just rules we must comply with,” he said.
He was unable to explain the apparent discrepancy, as was Spain’s drug monitoring agency AEMPS.

When contacted a spokesman insisted someone would get back to us. A European agency the EMA, told us meanwhile to put it in writing and an answer ‘could take up to 31 days’.

At Pfizer a spokesman shockingly informed us the drug WAS only supposed to be available with a prescription in Spain.

“Champix is a prescription medicine in Spain, not an over-the-counter one,” she stated.

She also dismissed the claims that the drug caused suicidal tendencies and insisted that America’s Food and Drug Administration agency (FDA) believes that ‘the drug’s benefits outweigh the risks’.

However she admitted that a deeper study to evaluate the safety of the medicine in patients with depression is currently underway and results are expected in late 2012.

7 COMMENTS

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  1. When I was preparing to stop smoking at the end of last year, I went to the pharmacy to get some nicotine gum. The pharmacist actually tried to sell me Champix, even though that was not what I wanted or indeed had asked for. Perhaps the fact that the pills were more than €20 dearer than the gum may be an incentive. Is there a bigger profit?

    Incidentally, I stopped without any aids whatsoever. I am now almost 6 weeks without smoking, nicotine free and very happy.

  2. Congratulations Ralph.

    Hope Chris the suckling smoker doesn’t overindulge in this drug

    Not that I would miss his second hand smoke ….. but his ridicule, self-delusional and funtastic comments are amusing

  3. So, if a doctor prescribes this muck, does his/her voodoo touch, magically remove it’s possible toxic consequences? Or should it simply be banned? Nothing really helps nicotine junkies to quit.In the end, they’ve simply got to ride that cold turkey. All the patches, chewing gum and fake fags, are just delaying that tricky ride.

  4. My daughter committed suicide while taking this poison. I’m so sick of Pfizer saying “the benefits outweigh the risks.” Why should anyone have to die so someone else can reap the benefits?
    When they were testing this drug, one of their test subjects killed themselves so they’ve know for some time how dangerous it is. And my gov’t isn’t do a damn thing about it either

    “http://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/article/1267065–health-canada-tight-lipped-on-champix-suicides”

  5. Ralph,
    well done, now be careful with what you eat and don’t forget to increase your exercise – fast walking and then try jogging, poco, poco. After 2 years of being nicotine free and seriously into jogging and working out I was fitter at 52 then when I was 20.

    The negative is that you can now smell how horrible the stench of the smoker is – nothing comes for free.

    Beware of statins, they do have serious side effects which are downplayed by government and of course the pharmaceutical industry, the profit margins are small but mount up with the number sold.

    The husband of my partner’s niece was very fit, playing golf (we all have weaknesses) and working out 3 times a week in a gym, he is in his 70s’. He took the statins obediently and now – he has severe muscle wastage in his upper left arm and now cannot do exercise involving his arms.

    I was prescribed statins to lower my cholesterol and noticed quite severe pain in my calves, so I visited my doctor and he cut the dosage, still pain so he tried another type, same thing.

    I then stopped taking them and after a while my cholesterol was tested again – hardly any difference but now no muscle cramps or damage and interestingly my doctor told his own mother to stop taking them and her general health went back to normal.

    Virtually all prescription drugs have side effects, sometimes it is essential to take medication but never do this blindly and if you have a patronising doctor who refuses to listen to a patient’s own assessment – find another, your health is worth more than anything else.

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