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Study: Generic Quit-Smoking Drug Works

Tabex Used in Russia for More Than 40 Years

Tobacco Cessation Treatments Costly continued...

A year later, 8.4% of the study participants taking Tabex had successfully given up cigarettes compared to 2.4% of the participants taking the placebo.

West says a major strength of the study was that it was publicly funded through a grant from the U.K.’s Medical Research Council.

Study participants got very little behavioral support because the researchers wanted to mimic the lack of supportive medical care in low-resource regions of the world where smoking rates are highest.

“For the most part, these people were on their own, so the findings tell us that this drug can work in countries without a lot of medical resources,” West tells WebMD.

Tabex in U.S.? More Study Needed

West says Tabex could also benefit smokers who want to quit in the U.S. if approved by the FDA. He adds that the agency will probably require more studies of the drug before taking any action.

Tabex was developed and is marketed by the Bulgarian pharmaceutical company Sopharma, and it has been licensed to Maryland-based Extab Corp. According to Extab’s web site, the company’s sole purpose is to obtain approval for the drug in the U.S. and other countries where it is not yet available.

Smoking cessation expert Michael C. Fiore, MD, agrees that more study is needed before the drug is approved in the U.S.

Fiore directs the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention in Madison.

“This is a promising first study that needs to be replicated,” he tells WebMD. “A very low-cost generic drug that is both safe and effective would be a very helpful addition to smoking cessation efforts in the United States.”

Fiore says smokers who want to quit have the best chance of succeeding when they combine medication with counseling.

Telephone counseling to help smokers quit is available for free for U.S. residents at 800-QUIT-NOW. 

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