Friday, January 26, 2007

New Drug For Smokers

First there was Wellbutrin, an antidepressant which helped cut down on the cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms for many addicted smokers when it was marketed as the smoking cessation aid Zyban. In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) okayed a second medication for the treatment of nicotine addiction. Chantix, the trade name for varenicline tartrate, works on the dopamine system to reduce withdrawal and craving symptoms, like Zyban. In randomized, placebo-controlled clinical studies involving more than 3,500 smokers, Chantix outperformed both placebos and Zyban. Common side effects included nausea, headache and vomiting. Two studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that about 22 per cent of smokers on Chantix were abstinent at the one-year mark, compared to 15 per cent for Zyban, and 9 per cent for placebos.

Zyban and Chantix are frequently used by doctors in combination with nicotine replacement therapy, such as gum or patches. Zyban was the first major success story in the burgeoning field of pharmacological treatments for addiction--fighting fire with fire.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 44 million American adults continue to smoke cigarettes, a fifth of whom suffer from smoking-related illnesses.

See more on anti-craving drugs at


--”FDA Approves Novel Medication for Smoking Cessation.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. May 11, 2006.

Kotulak, Ronald. “New Drug Shows Promise in Helping Smokers Quit.” Chicago Tribune July 5 2006.


Anonymous said...

both my cardiologist and an RN who attended a nicotine seminar at Mayo's told me Chantix was the real thing because it goes right to the spot.

Nick in Van Nuys

Dirk Hanson said...

Mayo's smoking cessation program is considered one of the best. They've been pushing the patch-and-pill combination--and Chantix is getting high marks.

I managed to quit smoking by using Zyban and a heavy nicotine patch protocol. One of the arguments is over whether the starter nicotine patches are strong enough. My doctor okayed doubling up on patches (as long as I swore not to smoke while wearing them).


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