* Lawsuits claim Chantix led to attempted suicide, death
* Seek damages, jury trials
* Pfizer stands by drug (Adds Pfizer statement, plaintiff details, Chantix sales)
NEW YORK, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Three personal injury lawsuits were filed against Pfizer Inc PFE.N on Thursday, claiming its smoking cessation drug Chantix caused attempted suicides and death.
The lawsuits, filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, claim that at the time the plaintiffs took Chantix, Pfizer did not tell doctors and patients about dangers it allegedly knew were related to the drug, including depression and thoughts of suicide.
Although Pfizer subsequently added warnings to its package insert, the law firm that filed all three lawsuits alleged the drug’s label is still inadequate.
Pfizer introduced Chantix in the United States in 2006, hoping it would become a multibillion-dollar product and revive flagging profits. The drug’s sales have fallen off as concerns about side effects increased.
Chantix sales fell 15 percent to $155 million in the third quarter of 2009.
Attorney Marc Grossman alleged in the lawsuits that the company “intentionally, recklessly, and/or negligently concealed, suppressed, omitted, and/or misrepresented the risks, dangers, defects and disadvantages of Chantix.”
Grossman is with Sanders Viener Grossman LLP in Mineola, New York.
Two lawsuits claim the plaintiffs tried to kill themselves as a result of using Chantix. The third is a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Indiana resident Annette Pine, claiming she committed suicide after using Chantix.
The lawsuits seek trials by jury, punitive and compensatory damages, medical and legal expenses, and, in Pine’s case, funeral expenses.
Pfizer issued a statement defending the drug, approved in some 86 countries as a smoking cessation aid.
“At all times, Pfizer has clearly communicated important information about the safe use of Chantix, which is available only with a prescription,” Pfizer spokeswoman Sally Beatty said in the statement.
“We intend to vigorously defend this medicine,” she said, adding that Chantix has helped many smokers to quit.
The lawsuits claim that each of the plaintiffs used the drug properly. They also claim that in each case the plaintiffs and their doctors were “not aware and through diligent efforts were not able to discover the risk of serious injury, and/or depressed mood and/or suicide associated with and/or caused by Chantix.” (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson and Bill Berkrot; editing by Carol Bishopric)
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