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Anti-smoking drug “kills”


A coroner has said that the suicide of a UK television editor may be connected to anti-smoking drug Champix.

Sky Sports editor Omer Jama, slashed his wrists and stabbed himself in the thigh and stomach at his home. He had been taking Champix for two months to help him quit smoking, an inquest in Bolton was told.

The inquest heard that patients taking the drug in the USA had reported “suicidal” thoughts, and has been allegedly linked to 37 suicide cases in the country.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued updated guidance on the usage of active ingredient varenicline two months after Jama’s death last October.

Coroner Jennifer Leeming said that she could not be sure that Jama meant to kill himself, and recorded an open verdict. “For me to register that he took his own life I would have to be satisfied he did the act which led to his death and he knew what he was doing,” she said. “On the evidence before me I cannot say that was the case.”

Leeming announced that she will write to the EMA to register Jama’s death as an “adverse event”.

A spokesman for Champix makers Pfizer said: “Depression, rarely including suicidal ideation, has been reported in patients undergoing a smoking cessation attempt. These symptoms have also been reported while quitting with varenicline. A relationship between varenicline and the reported symptoms hasn’t been established but in some reports a link couldn’t be excluded.”

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