Smoking cessation drug proves effective

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Sept. 4, 2006

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A drug recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a smoking cessation aid appears to be effective in both the short and long term for smokers trying to quit, according to a study in the Aug. 14/28 Archives of Internal Medicine.

The new drug, varenicline tartrate, made by Pfizer and marketed as Chantix, mimics the effects of nicotine to help offset cravings. In the presence of nicotine, it helps suppress some of the reinforcing effects of smoking.

Healthy smokers ages 18 to 65 were randomly assigned to get either varenicline in a variety of doses for six weeks -- 0.3 mg a day, 1 mg a day or 1 mg twice daily and a placebo for one week; or 150 mg of sustained-release bupropion hydrochloride twice daily for seven weeks or a placebo for seven weeks. There were 128 smokers in each group. The researchers report that the varenicline 1 mg twice daily dose triggered the highest rate of continuous abstinence. Four-week quit rates ranged from 48% for those on the high-dose varenicline to 17% for those on the placebo. Long-term quit rates ranging from four weeks to one year were 14% for the varenicline group and 5% for those on placebo.

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