New Smoking Cessation Treatment Found Effective
Chantix, a smoking cessation medication manufactured by Pfizer that will reach the market this month, is more effective than a placebo or Zyban, a rival treatment manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, according to three studies published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Chicago Tribune reports. FDA approved Chantix, a non-nicotine oral medication, in May (Kotulak, Chicago Tribune, 7/5).
One of the studies, conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and other institutions, finds that 43.9% of participants who took Chantix abstained from smoking during the last four weeks of a 12-week treatment period, compared with 29.8% who took Zyban and 17.6% who took a placebo. A second study, conducted by researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University, finds almost identical results (Burton, Wall Street Journal, 7/5).
In both studies, about 22% to 23% of participants who took Chantix continued to abstain from smoking after 52 weeks, compared with 14% to 16% of those who took Zyban and 8% to 10% of those who took a placebo (Chicago Tribune, 7/5).
In a third study, researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway examined smokers who had quit during a 12-week treatment period to determine whether they continued to abstain from smoking after one year. According to the study, 43.96% of participants who took Chantix continued to abstain from smoking after one year, compared with 36.9% of those who took Zyban.
In all three studies, the main side effect experienced by participants who took Chantix was nausea (Wall Street Journal, 7/5). Pfizer funded the three studies (Powers, Memphis Commercial Appeal, 7/5).
In an editorial that accompanied the studies, Robert Klesges, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, writes, "Patients currently cannot and probably never will simply be able to 'take a pill' that will make them stop smoking. Smokers must want to stop smoking and must be wiling to work hard to achieve that goal of smoking abstinence."
Chantix "definitively is not a panacea for smoking cessation," he writes, adding, "Importantly, the majority of participants in these three studies did not quit smoking even with" Chantix (Chicago Tribune, 7/5). In addition, Klesges writes that the institutions involved with the studies "attract highly motivated, nonrepresentative smokers," adding, "In the real world, the effectiveness diminishes" (Wall Street Journal, 7/5).