Mentally distressed veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are being recruited for government tests on pharmaceutical drugs linked to suicide and other violent side effects, an investigation by ABC News and The Washington Times has found.
“Lab rat, guinea pig, disposable hero,” said former US Army sniper James Elliott in describing how he felt he was betrayed by the Veterans Administration.
Elliott, 38, of suburban Washington, D.C., was recruited, at $30 a month, for the Chantix anti-smoking study three years after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He served a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq from 2003-2004.
Months after he began taking the drug, Elliott suffered a mental breakdown, experiencing a relapse of Iraq combat nightmares he blames on Chantix.
“They never told me that I was going to be suicidal, that I would cease sleeping. They never told me anything except this will help me quit smoking,” Elliott told ABC News and The Washington Times.
It wasn’t until three weeks later that the Veterans Administration advised the veterans in the Chantix study that the drug may cause serious side effects, including “anxiety, nervousness, tension, depression, thoughts of suicide, and attempted and completed suicide.”
Just when you think this administration cannot possibly go ANY lower, they look around the sewer, and start digging deeper.
“How this study continued in the face of these difficulties is almost impossible to understand,” said Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Doctors at the Veterans Administration say they acted as quickly as they could.
“This didn’t justify an emergency warning at that level,” said Dr. Miles McFall, co-administrator of the VA study.
Dr. McFall said there is no proof that Elliott’s breakdown was caused by Chantix and he sees no reason to discontinue the study. Some 140 veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder continue to receive Chantix as part of a smoking cessation study.
This from the people who kept claiming that Agent Orange was perfectly benign.
Anybody care to bet that when we start digging into how such a study was organized, we find a Bush crony with ties to Big Pharma?
But hey, it could just be an overreaction, right?
The FAA has prohibited commercial airline pilots from using Chantix because of its possible side effects.
Apparently Pfizer didn’t pass around enough money to grease all the palms.