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Chantix Helps Smokers Kick Habit

2 Studies Show New Drug 3 Times as Effective as Placebo

Studies Show Efficacy of Chantix continued...

In a related study by the same researchers, 647 smokers were divided into four test groups that received Chantix for 12 weeks, as well as a placebo group. Two of the test groups took 0.5 milligrams Chantix twice a day; the other two received 1 milligram twice a day.

At the end of a year, quit rates were 22% among the smokers who took 1 milligram of Chantix twice a day, 19% for those who took 0.5 milligrams of Chantix twice a day, and 4% in the placebo group.

The main side effect, nausea, was reduced if doses started low and were increased over time.

Time to Quit Is Now

"This is a highly effective treatment for nicotine dependence and it shows superior efficacy compared with [Zyban]," Bankole A. Johnson, DSc, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. Johnson, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, wrote an editorial accompanying the new studies.

"The side effect profile is tolerable and it represents a new way forward because all the other drugs out there are simply trying to replace nicotine," he says.

"Over the last decade there have been new treatments that move away from nicotine replacement, and in the next several years we will likely see a nicotine vaccine, which will be very promising," according to Johnson.

The bottom line is that "there are treatments that are available now that are excellent, [so] don't delay seeking treatment," Johnson says.

Westman adds that "having another medication or pill will definitely be advantageous, but we do not have enough information to know for whom [Chantix] will be better, work in, or not work in."

"I don't know where it will fit," says Westman, "but I think most people will still try nicotine replacement first and then try [this drug]."

Plant-Based Cure Underused?

In related news, a Swiss researcher reports that cytisine, a plant-derived medication used to treat tobacco dependence in Eastern Europe for four decades, may be an effective, but highly underutilized alternative.

Jean-Francois Etter, PhD, MPH, of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, cites as a reason the fact that existing studies on the chemical are not published in English.

The substance is found in a plant known as the golden rain tree, or Cytisus laburnum. During World War II, smokers used leaves from this plant as a tobacco substitute.

In fact, Chantix is derived from the same plant.

Cytisine is now marketed for smoking cessationsmoking cessation under the name Tabex by a Bulgarian company.

In a review of 10 studies from Bulgaria, Germany, Poland, and Russia, dating from 1967 to 2005 and involving 4,404 smokers, this plant-based agent was found to be effective in helping people quit smokingquit smoking.

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