Army Pfc. George D.B. MacDonald says the smoking-cessation drug Chantix affected his mental health leading to his killing recruit Rick Bulmer. While the drug maker has denied the claims, others have blamed it for suicides, suicidal thoughts and other psychiatric problems.
Before Pfizer paid at least $299 million to settle claims that its anti-smoking drug Chantix caused harm, the pharmaceutical giant played hardball with Army Pfc. George D.B. MacDonald.
Charged with murdering fellow soldier and Fresno, Calif., native Rick Bulmer in May 2008, MacDonald claimed his mind snapped after using the medication to stop smoking. Chantix, MacDonald wrote, caused him to "go crazy for a while" before the assault in their Fort Benning, Ga., barracks.
During his court-martial, Pfizer resisted turning over certain documents to the defense team, including clinical trial studies that were conducted on Chantix.
"I mean, it is the United States and Pfizer versus Pfc. MacDonald here," MacDonald's attorney, Lt. Col. Jan Aldykiewicz, fumed at a pretrial hearing June 1, 2009, a transcript shows.
The trial judge disagreed and refused to compel the company, which wasn't a party to the case, to comply with a subpoena for the material. The military jury subsequently convicted MacDonald of murdering Bulmer, a 23-year-old private, and sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole.