Chantix Helps Smokers Kick Habit
2 Studies Show New Drug 3 Times as Effective as Placebo
Aug. 14, 2006 – The latest weapon in the war against smoking, Chantix, is an effective way for smokers to kick the habit without resorting to taking nicotine in other forms, according to two new studies.
In one of the studies, Chantix was shown to be almost three times as effective as a placebo. It also worked better than Zyban, another drug used by smokers, in the study.
Chantix (varenicline tartrate) was approved by the FDA in May 2006.
It acts at sites in the brain affected by nicotine to do two things: It mimics the effects of nicotine to help stave off cravings and, when used with nicotine, it blocks some of the reinforcing, pleasurable effects of smoking.
However, unlike smoking cessationsmoking cessation tools such as gum and patches, Chantix is not a nictotine replacement.
The approved course of Chantix treatment is 12 weeks, but longer treatment may help some smokers. In addition, counseling is recommended as part of the Chantix treatment program.
"It's a significant new arrow in the quiver," Eric C. Westman, MD, tells WebMD, referring to Chantix.
"It's the first new medication we have had in 10 years and it should create some momentum for people to quit again," says Westman, who is medical director of the Center for Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Research at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C.
Studies Show Efficacy of Chantix
The two new studies were published in the Aug.14/28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. They were done by researchers at multiple centers in the U.S.
One study looked at otherwise healthy smokers, aged 18 to 65, who smoked around 20 cigarettes a day for about 24 years. Those who received Chantix with brief behavioral counseling were more likely to kick the habit than smokers who got a placebo.
What's more, smoking-cessation rates improved with higher doses of the drug. Participants who took one milligram (mg) twice daily (the highest dose used in the study) had the best quit rates.
In the study, participants received one of the following treatments:
- 0.3 mg of Chantix once daily
- 1 mg of Chantix once daily
- 1 mg of Chantix twice daily
- 150 mg of another smoking-cessation drug, the antidepressant Zyban (also known as Wellbutrin SR, or by the generic name bupropion) twice daily
- A placebo
The Chantix courses were for six weeks, plus an additional week of placebo. The Zyban and placebo courses were for seven weeks.
The four-week continuous quit rates for the various treatments were:
- 48% for 1 mg Chantix twice daily
- 37% for 1 mg Chantix daily
- 33% for Zyban
- 17% for the placebo
Long-term quit rates at one year were 14% for the group that received 1 milligram twice daily of Chantix, vs. 5% for the placebo, the study showed.