A new systematic review of previous studies published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on May 30, 2012, found that the present group of licensed medications for smoking cessation are successful in assisting people in quitting smoking.
In Europe and the U. S. the only medications currently licensed for smoking cessation are nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) such as nicotine patches and gums, the antidepressant bupropion, and the drug varenicline, which blunts the effects of nicotine on nicotine receptors in the brain. In Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe cytisine, which is similar to varenicline, is also licensed for smoking cessation.
The researchers examined evidence from 267 studies that involved a total of 101,804 people who used licensed and unlicensed smoking cessation medications to quit smoking. A successful quit attempt was considered to be that a person quit smoking for six months or longer.
The three widely licensed medications and cytisine all improved smokers’ chances of quitting.
The odds of quitting were about 80 percent higher with single NRT or bupropion than with placebo, and between two and three times higher with varenicline than with placebo. Varenicline was about 50 percent more effective than any single formulation of NRT (patches, gum, sprays, lozenges and inhalers), but similar in efficacy to combining two types of NRT.
Based on two recent trials, cytisine improved the chances of quitting nearly four times as much when compared with placebo.
The researchers also assessed the safety of different medications. Bupropion, which is known to trigger occasional seizures in vulnerable people, did not lead to an increase in the rate of seizures when used for smoking cessation in its slow release version