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Mixed Long-Term Results with Smoking Cessation Drugs — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 8, 2014

Mixed Long-Term Results with Smoking Cessation Drugs

By Joe Elia

Two studies in a JAMA issue devoted to smoking offer insight into the efficacy of smoking-cessation drugs — and how difficult it is to quit.

In one study, 500 adult smokers were randomized to receive daily varenicline plus either bupropion or placebo for 12 weeks. During a 52-week follow-up, combination therapy produced higher biochemically confirmed, prolonged abstinence rates at 12 and 26 weeks, but not at 52 weeks. The 7-day point prevalence abstinence rate (no smoking in the previous 7 days) did not differ between the groups at any follow-up point.

The other study examined the effect of prolonged varenicline maintenance therapy among roughly 90 patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who'd successfully quit smoking after a 12-week course of varenicline. The patients were randomized to either an additional 40 weeks of varenicline or placebo. All received cognitive behavioral therapy. By 72 weeks, varenicline had outperformed placebo at every time point, resulting in roughly a 30% quit rate for extended-course varenicline versus 10% for placebo.

Reader Comments (1)

Bruce Atwood PhD Other, Other, Ohio State University

I note that individuals who have recently (< 1 year) quit smoking are rarely warned that it can take two years or more before a former smoker is comfortable in all situations. Sitting is a smoke filled bar with smoking friends is probably the worst case. I quit smoking twice, once for 5 years and now for >30 years, and I can assure you that dealing with these situations is almost as hard as "quitting" in the first place.

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