A lawsuit filed by an Alabama man against Pfizer Inc., maker of the anti-smoking drug Chantix, has been designated the bellwether (test case) among more than 2,600 federal lawsuits filed nationwide. The trial is set to begin Jan. 22 in Florence, Alabama, before U.S. District Court Judge Inge Johnson.
Billy G. Bedsole Jr.’s lawsuit became the bellwether after the manufacturer of Chantix, Pfizer, settled out of court for an undisclosed sum with a Minnesota woman whose husband took Chantix and committed suicide. Bedsole’s case was one of four chosen because they have common theories or claims among the other lawsuits grouped in the multidistrict litigation case.
Bedsole claims Chantix gave him insomnia, severe anxiety and depression, erratic behavior and thoughts of suicide and that some of these ailments required hospitalization for treatment. Bedsole says he wouldn’t have used Chantix had he known about the risks of serious injury or death allegedly associated with the drug. Pfizer claims it gives consumers sufficient warning of the risks and has said in court papers that either Chantix didn’t cause any injuries or that the smokers who used it were predisposed to physical or psychological problems.