| I am not attaching the story below to blame or vindicate the makers of the product in question. I am not looking to discuss or debates the merits of the case. What I think is significant about this article for this board is that it shows the plight and struggles of a man who obviously wanted to quit smoking and reduce his health risks, but who did not realize that quitting was possible without the use of a drug. It also shows the sadness to the family of a man caused by smoking. |
Last month I had a woman in my clinic who was on NRT products for over ten years. She had actually relapsed many years earlier by taking a piece of nicorette gum after being off smoking a pretty significant time period. She said that she was on the gum almost the whole time after that, except for one brief time period when she switched to a patch to quit the gum. She estimated that she spent over $10,000 in NRT products over a 10 year period. I actually got an email from her yesterday and she is doing fine now, writing, "very confident and committed to being a non-nicotine abuser."
The story below is sad, and it is impossible to say what the actual cause of the illness may have been. Smoking in fact does increase the risk of esophogeal cancer. But what we know is that this man was in some form of withdrawal for five years and constantly fighting an active addiction. To keep this quit simple, cheap, withdrawal free, and never having to worry about the potential of future findings of future long-term usage of nicotine just always remember to get and stay smoke is as easy as just knowing to never take another puff!
A Good Fight
By KEN LEWIS
The St. Augustine Record
Pat Greenfield's husband was an intellectual and a sociologist, but he could not think his way out of an addiction to nicotine.
He died of esophageal cancer in April 2000 at the age of 66. Greenfield blamed her husband's death on the Nicorette gum he chewed compulsively for five years in his attempt to quit smoking. She proceeded in 2002 with the Herculean task of suing the corporation that markets Nicorette, doing it without an attorney.
Her case was promptly dismissed, on a technicality, from federal court in Jacksonville. She had failed to breach the legalese and make a jury listen. She said she could not afford an attorney.
Now she's exhausted, consumed by the case, still brimming with the memory of her beloved husband. She guards her inch-thick pile of legal documents as if it was a living being.
Her story is about failure and hopelessness in the mystifying world of law. It's about her conviction that Nicorette is dangerous, though officials say it is not. It's about her love for Robert Greenfield, her grief, and her wish to fight what she calls "the good fight."
Nicorette is produced by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, L.P., which makes over-the-counter drugs for the huge pharmaceutical corporation, GlaxoSmithKline.
The gum is touted as a "stop smoking aid" to be used for 12 weeks. A user is supposed to quit smoking, then chew the gum to relieve the cravings and discomfort. The instructions say to chew once or twice, then "park" the piece between the gums and the cheek.
Nowhere on the box or in its directions does GlaxoSmithKline say the product could cause cancer or be addictive.
On the upper right hand corner, in blue, is the seal of the American Cancer Society.
GlaxoSmithKline pays the American Cancer Society $1.5 million yearly for use of the seal, said ACS national spokesman Shawn Steward. The money is used for research and lobbying. The relationship benefits both groups, and began in 1996, Steward said. That was the year Nicorette became an over-the-counter drug.
Steward said there is no clinical evidence that nicotine replacement therapy, such as Nicorette, causes cancer.
He said that cigarettes cause cancer because of toxic chemicals in the smoke other than nicotine.
"We're not aware of any connections between nicotine and increased cancer risk," Steward said.
Melissa Dunn, a Glaxo-SmithKline spokeswoman, said "no" when asked if there were carcinogenic effects from Nicorette.
"We certainly encourage people to follow the directions that we've worked so hard with the (Food and Drug Administration). . . to put on those boxes," she said.
In the lawsuit, Greenfield cited an article written in 2000 by Stephen Hecht and colleagues of the Minnesota Cancer Center. Basically, the article stated that tobacco users could be producing a carcinogen in their own bodies after metabolizing nicotine. The carcinogen he discovered is known to lead specifically to lung cancer, Hecht wrote.
He wrote that the carcinogen could be formed inside the body "during nicotine replacement therapy, particularly under conditions of long-term therapy."
But Robert Greenfield died from cancer in his esophagus, not in his lungs.
42 years togetherGreenfield, 71, talks about her husband of 42 years with all the enthusiasm of a new crush.
"What do you say? How do you describe the perfect man?" she asked.
They knew each other for six weeks before getting married. From then on, they were together constantly, first in California, then in Florida, raising two sons and a daughter.
"He was extremely intellectual, a very, very brilliant man," Greenfield said.
He taught sociology at several universities in California, then worked as a criminologist for the state of Florida, she said. They lived in Tallahassee and Jacksonville, moving to St. Augustine Beach for retirement in 1992. Greenfield had been a special education teacher in Duval County.
She said her husband had a knack for understanding "gray areas" and ideas that were not clear. As a criminologist, he could see things that others could not.
He was a passionate man, she said. And he was a smoker. His mother smoked while she was pregnant with him. He started at the age of 13. After more than 50 years of cigarettes, he quit in the mid-1990s, on advice from a doctor. He started chewing Nicorette and could not stop for five years.
In early 2000, a doctor diagnosed esophageal cancer.
Greenfield said her husband asked her to lock up their firearms because the pain was going to be intense. He had 12 weeks to live.
"For months and months and months, I screamed at God, 'Why me?'" she said.
She spent more than a year in profound grief, weeping in church, weeping in Wal-Mart, weeping daily wherever she went.
Then she tried to sue. Greenfield said she talked to at least 30 attorneys, but could not afford their services.
In 2002, she took matters into her own hands, filing a wrongful death suit against GlaxoSmithKline.
She became obsessed with the case and said she devoted at least 1,000 hours of work to it.
U.S. District Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. dismissed the case in May. He concluded that Greenfield could not bring the wrongful death action because she was not technically her husband's "personal representative."
She wants to appeal, but she doesn't know how. She wants to try again. For now, she'll take a little rest.