Consider The Evidence: Med/Peds Journal Roundup

July 17, 2006

new drug to help smokers quit

Filed under: JAMA — medblog @ 11:27 pm

JAMA – With millions of smokers trying to quit, treatment of nicotine addiction has become a hotbed of research. Three articles in last week’s JAMA cover Varenicline, the first new drug made specifically to treat nicotine addiction.

Varenicline is a partial agonist at the nicotine receptor thought to be responsible for the reinforcing effects of the drug. This may result in the blunting of withdrawal symptoms while blocking activation by nicotine from cigarettes.

So how well did it work? Pretty well in fact. The articles indicated that Varenicline was superior to placebo as well as Buproprion in sustained abstinence from smoking. When compared to placebo, subjects in the intervention group were almost 4 times as likely to quit at the end of a 12-week treatment period, and about twice as likely to stay off the cancer sticks 40 weeks after the treatment period was over.

The downside is that even with the medication, sucessful quit rates are only about 30-40 percent. What remains to be seen is whether the effect is increased when combined with Buproprion. And with a nicotine vaccine in the pipes, it remains to be seen how long this drug will be needed at all…

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