Nursing Voices

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Disposable Heroes

This story from ABC News and the Washington Times just makes me sick. It seems as though our government is using our war heroes as lab rats. Scumbag researchers are giving soldiers who are suffering from PTSD an anti-smoking drug called Chantix, and then they are sitting back and watching what happens next. And oh yes, the researchers aren’t telling anyone in the study that the drug can cause psychosis and suicidal ideations. After all, the test subjects have enough emotional problems, so why freak them out anymore than they already are by explaining that the drug has pesky side effects. That makes sense, right?

Go ahead, call me a cynic, but why is the government targeting soldiers that are emotionally fragile? Maybe the army isn't trying to find a cure for smoking after all. Not that our government ever lies to us. Just sayin.' The whole thing reminds me of the "Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male."


Blogger distracted by shiny objects said...

Worse than that I read that the government is discharging quite a few of these young men and women, therefore stopping their VA benefits, because their PTSD isn't really due to combat--they had a "pre-existing condition." Someone from Congress was trying to float a bill to stop this practice. It's just wrong. AnnieH

9:20 PM  
Blogger Morose Recluse said...

My impression is that our country (as well as many others) has done this in every major war of the 20th century. It shouldn't be a surprise anymore. Still immoral and wrong,just commonly done and no law against it.

1:46 AM  
Blogger Nurse K said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:22 AM  
Blogger MadMike said...

Unfortunately morose is right. Such experimentation is not uncommon and has been practiced for many decades. I don't know enough about it to pass judgment at this point.

11:19 AM  
Blogger ButtercupRN said...

Giving the returning veterans who already have an incredibly high rate of depression,PTSD and suicide a drug that makes "normal people" psychotic and suicidal is just plain stupid. I know smoking has long term terrible end organ damage but the kicker is even with the nasty side effects,that is,if they live,they don't have a high rate of smoking cessation so why subjuct them to that incredible risk? Haven't they been through enough?

12:49 AM  
Blogger RehabNurse said...


Yes, this is lamentable.

I am happy that I work on a unit where our research RNs are busting their butts to make sure our patients a)know everything that's involved in our projects and b) get paid for their time. Not all VA research studies involve drugs, but nearly all of them involve RNs.

B is the part that's becoming hard for a lot of these folks. We have studies that are doing good (working with getting patients access to specific outside resources is the latest one) and when admins eff up paying these guys, they drop out.

On a side note, I am very, very, very leery of Chantix. If you notice, in some areas, they still advertise for it, but never mention the name of the drug, only a website that's vague, like or something.

I have read the literature and if my patients ask, I tell them Chantix has a risk. If they ask my opinion, I say "no way" would I use it.

One of my support people at the last job had a script for it, so I advised her to contact her PCP and really discuss before considering it and I invited her to read the literature for herself. Then I told her to talk to her specialist to see if it was really necessary.

Suicidality just isn't a side effect you can live with, like a rash or dry mouth.

10:24 AM  
Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

This is very distressing to read. And probably true.

And I have good reason to believe what AnnieH said in the first comment.

And just this morning, there was something I read online about a soldier trying to kill himself rather than be returned to Iraq for still another tour of duty after, mind you, his enlistment would have expired but for the "stop loss" imposed by the Army... because they need the bodies.

All this from, or at least during, an Administration that claims to be pro-military. Sadly, if there were a draft, a lot of this garbage wouldn't happen because more people would be directly involved in the military and would not stand for this kind of stuff happening to our children.

But we'd still have a draft.

This one touches a nerve.

11:20 AM  

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