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Two years ago, scientists had high hopes for new pills that would help people quit smoking, lose weight and maybe kick other tough addictions like alcohol and coc aine
The pills worked in a novel way, by blocking pleasure centers in the brain that provide the feel-good response from smoking or eating. Now it seems the drugs may block pleasure too well, possibly raising the risk of depression and suicide.
Margaret Bastian of suburban Rochester, N.Y., was among patients who reported problems with Chantix, a highly touted quit-smoking pill from Pfizer Inc. that has been linked to dozens of reports of suicides and hundreds of suicidal behaviors.
A bigger fear is that the whole approach may be in trouble. Researchers say blocking pleasure, especially the way the obesity drugs do, might take the fun out of many things, not just the harmful substances and behaviors these drugs target.