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Back To Vidyya University Of Minnesota Study Shows That Drug Therapy Helps Motivate Smokers To Cut Down And Quit

Zyban Significantly More Effective Than Placebo In Helping Smokers Who Were Unwilling To Quit To Reduce Cigarette Use And Eventually Quit

Results from a new study have found that a nicotine-free drug, bupropion hydrochloride SR (Zyban), was significantly more effective than a placebo in helping smokers who were unwilling or unable to quit to first reduce their cigarette use and then eventually quit. Ultimately, the study may offer physicians an alternative approach in treating their tobacco-using patients who have the greatest difficulty in quitting.

The results were presented yesterday at the 7th Annual Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Meeting in Seattle, Washington.

"Certainly, smoking cessation is the clear goal in treating tobacco addiction," said Dr. Dorothy Hatsukami, one of the authors of the study and professor at the University of Minnesota. "However, alternative approaches to usual smoking cessation methods may be necessary for smokers who aren't quite ready or who are ambivalent about quitting. If we can motivate these smokers to make a quit attempt and to make the attempt sooner than later, we can possibly increase overall the population of successful quitters."

During the reduction phase of the study, smokers who were not considering quitting and had previously failed at least twice were given bupropion SR or placebo for up to six months and asked to gradually reduce their cigarette consumption by 50 percent. In the cessation arm of the study, a target-quit date was set and the smokers were given an additional seven weeks of treatment.

Continuous smoking abstinence rates at week seven in the cessation arm were significantly higher in patients receiving bupropion SR compared with those receiving a placebo (14 percent vs. 8 percent, p=0.03). Additionally, the median time to make a cessation attempt for patients taking bupropion SR was 64 days versus 118 days for patients on placebo.

The results of the study show that smokers who are unwilling to quit can reduce their smoking through the use of Zyban, but more importantly this reduction can lead to quitting. This approach may be an alternative for smokers who are not ready to quit and for physicians who are unsure about how to treat this population of smokers. The ultimate goal is to get smokers to quit using tobacco products. This study is in line with the recent Institute of Medicine report that encouraged examination of reduced smoking approaches as an alternative treatment method.

GlaxoSmithKline funded the study; the company markets the smoking cessation treatment bupropion SR, which is also known as Zyban.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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