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Pfizer faces rash of lawsuits over ‘suicidal’ anti-smoking drug

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WASHINGTON — Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer faces lawsuits from some 1,200 plaintiffs in the United States who claim the anti-smoking drug Chantix causes depression or suicidal thoughts, lawyers said Thursday.

The drug, approved in almost 90 countries around the world and used by some seven million Americans, is particularly sought after at New Year’s when many smokers typically make resolutions to end their nicotine addiction.

A federal judge in the southern US state of Alabama is reviewing the raft of lawsuits against Pfizer from former patients and relatives of those who used to take Chantix.

Lead attorney Ernest Cory accused Pfizer of negligence in bringing the drug to the US market in 2006, citing complaints from users of “neuropsychological problems” including “suicide, attempted suicide, seizure and blackouts.”

Cory told AFP that well over 100 Chantix users had actually committed suicide and estimated that 1,000 more cases would be filed against Pfizer.

“In 60 percent of the lawsuits that are filed now by individuals or their estate either an attempted suicide or a completed suicide occurs,” he said.

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Victoria Davis, a spokeswoman from the pharmaceutical giant, rejected any claims of wrongdoing.

“Pfizer acted responsibly and appropriately at all times in connection with the development, approval, and marketing of Chantix,” she said.

“There is no reliable scientific evidence that Chantix causes the neuropsychiatric events alleged in these lawsuits. Chantix is an effective treatment option for many smokers who want to quit, and we intend to defend this important medication.”

Cory suggested it was unlikely that judge Inge Johnson, who is reviewing the centralized cases, would decide that there could be one single trial covering all the suits.

If Chantix is found to be dangerous it could be withdrawn from the US market, where sales have suffered since alleged links to depression and suicide mushroomed last year.

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Lawrence O’Donnell throttles Donny Deutsch for saying Elizabeth Warren can’t beat Trump: ‘This is pure guesswork’

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Lawrence O'Donnell and Donny Deutsch had quite the exchange in the post-debate conversation on MSNBC Wednesday.

Deutsch tried to say that Sen. Elizabeth Warren's outstanding debate performance doesn't matter because Warren can't win in a match-up against President Donald Trump.

"I do not believe Elizabeth Warren, on stage with Donald Trump, beats him," he told the MSNBC panel. "And I think if we're honest with ourselves and we look hard at ourselves, I think a lot of people agree with me. It's — and I also think when you can label somebody a socialist, 57 percent of this country thinks that word is un-American. I'm not saying it's fair. When he can blanket Elizabeth Warren as a socialist, and he's on stage with her, the Democrats lose."

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Father and daughter drowning at the border fuels anger at Trump immigration policies

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A shocking photograph of a Salvadoran man and his baby daughter drowned in the Rio Grande fueled a surge of emotion around the world Wednesday -- as US Democrats furiously denounced Donald Trump's immigration policies.

"Trump is responsible for these deaths," said Beto O'Rourke, one of several Democratic White House hopefuls who took to Twitter to lash out at the president.

Former vice president Joe Biden, who is also seeking the presidency in 2020, called the image "gut-wrenching."

"History will judge how we respond to the Trump administration's treatment of immigrant families & children -- we can't be silent," he said.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren leads Democrats in spirited first 2020 debate

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Ten Democrats clashed in the first debate of the 2020 presidential race Wednesday with Elizabeth Warren cementing her status as a top-tier candidate and several underdogs using the issue of immigration to clamor for the limelight.

The biggest American political debate since the 2016 presidential campaign is occurring over two nights in Miami, climaxing Thursday with former vice president Joe Biden squaring off against nine challengers, including number two candidate Bernie Sanders.

But Wednesday's first take was a spirited encounter between Democrats like ex-congressman Beto O'Rourke, Senator Cory Booker, former San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on subjects as varied as health care, economic inequality, climate action, gun violence, Iran and immigration.

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