Researchers warn of hazards of smoking and need for wider use of varenicline to quit

More than 35 million Americans are trying to quit smoking. Smoking cigarettes causes 480,000 premature deaths each year due mainly to a two-fold risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20-fold risk of lung cancer. In a commentary published in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University reassure clinicians and their patients that varenicline, whose brand name is Chantix, is a safe and effective way to achieve smoking cessation and that failure to use this drug has caused preventable heart attacks and deaths from cardiovascular disease.

In 2006, varenicline was approved as a safe and effective means to quit smoking and achieved permanent quit rates of approximately 25 percent. In 2009, however, varenicline received a black box warning by the FDA based on their adverse event reports of neuropsychiatric symptoms like depression and thoughts of suicide.

Full story of varenicline as effective means of quitting smoking at Science Daily

Smokers Can Increase Quit Rates if They Take Medication Before They’re Ready to Stop

A new study finds smokers who start taking smoking-cessation medication before they are ready to quit have greater success once they do want to stop.

Doctors are currently advised to follow clinical practice guidelines that recommend patients set a quit date before they are prescribed smoking cessation pills such as Chantix, the medication used in the new study. Chantix is made by Pfizer, which funded the study, according to The New York Times.

The study included 1,500 smokers at 61 clinics in the United States and abroad. None of the smokers said they wanted to quit right away, but they all said they wanted to smoke less, and to quit within three months. Half of the smokers took Chantix twice a day, and the other half took placebo pills. Almost one-third of smokers who took Chantix quit within six months, compared with 6 percent of those taking the placebo.

Full story of smokers and smoking-cessation medication at drugfree.org

Quit-Smoking Drug Works Best When Combined With Nicotine Patch

A new study finds smokers who use the prescription drug varenicline together with nicotine patches are more successful in giving up cigarettes for up to six months, compared with those who use the drug alone.

The 446 smokers in the study received either a nicotine patch and varenicline, or a placebo patch and varenicline. Treatment continued for 12 weeks after the smokers’ quit date. Researchers checked in with the study participants after 24 weeks, and again after six months. They found 65 percent of those using varenicline and the nicotine patch were not smoking after six months, compared with 47 percent of those who used varenicline and a placebo patch. Varenicline is sold under the brand name Chantix.

Full story of combination of quit smoking methods at drugfree.org