Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Smoking Cessation Health Center

Font Size

Nicotine Patches, Gums May Pose Health Risk

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

March 29, 2002 -- Nicotine patches and gums have helped millions of people improve their health by allowing them to quit smoking. But a new study shows that these products may create other problems for their users.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, shows that nornicotine, a product created by the breakdown of nicotine, may interfere with a variety of chemical reactions in the body. These reactions may, in turn, trigger a range of negative health affects.

Researchers stress that their findings are preliminary and have only been demonstrated in the lab, not in humans. The study suggests that those who take medications or smoke while using nicotine products may be at a greater risk for adverse drug reactions because nornicotine may alter the effects and potency of other drugs.

While the addictive effects of nicotine is well known, the authors say their study shows another by-product of tobacco also plays a role. Nornicotine can prompt reactions that change the ways chemicals are processed and circulate in the body, although nicotine has no effect on these reactions.

In fact, researchers say it's the first time this type of compound has been shown to trigger these chemical reactions.

Some medications, such as steroids and antibiotics, may be more likely to interact with nornicotine, according to researchers. Tests are now underway to determine exactly which drugs may put smokers and users of other nicotine products at risk.

Today on WebMD

hands breaking a cigarette
Is quitting cold turkey an effective method?
14 tips to get you through the first hard days.
smoking man
Surprising impacts of tobacco on the body.
cigarette smoke
What happens when you kick the habit?

Filtered cigarettes
an array of e cigarettes
human heart
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms

man smoking cigarette
no smoking sign
Woman ashing cigarette in ashtray
chain watch