This paper presents the first head-to-head comparison of five commonly used, effective smoking cessation
pharmacotherapies. It shows that all are effective when compared with placebo but that the combination of
nicotine patch plus nicotine lozenge was the most effective relative to placebo. These results provide
important information for clinicians who are trying to choose among the available smoking cessation
therapies, and call for a similar study that includes varenicline.
Among all addictive substances, cigarette smoking causes the highest morbidity and mortality rates. A number of
medications have been shown to be effective in helping smokers quit, but studies have typically compared one
pharmacotherapy with placebo, leaving the clinician with little evidence about which pharmacotherapy is the most
effective. This study begins to fill that gap by presenting data from a head-to-head comparison of nicotine lozenge,
nicotine patch, sustained-release bupropion, nicotine patch plus nicotine lozenge, bupropion plus nicotine lozenge,
and placebo. The study included 1504 adults who smoked at least 10 cigarettes/day during the past 6 months and
were interested in quitting, agreed to participate in the study, and had no medical or psychiatric contraindications for
any of the pharmacotherapies. Pharmacotherapies were delivered for 8-12 weeks, depending on the specific
medication and according to current treatment guidelines, and study participants received six smoking cessation
counseling sessions. At 6 months, 22% of placebo patients had carbon dioxide-confirmed abstinence compared to
40.1% of ‘patch plus lozenge’ patients, with the other therapies producing abstinence rates of 31.8% to 33.4%.
Placebo response rates were higher than usual, possibly due to the counseling and motivation needed to
participate, and all therapies were generally well tolerated. It would be very interesting and important to conduct a
similar study that includes varenicline.
FROM: Faculty of 1000 Medicine
BY: George Woody