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Smoking is the leading preventable cause of illness and premature death worldwide. Some medications have been proven to help people to quit, with three licensed for this purpose in Europe and the USA: nicotine (1:1000), at about 1:1500. SAE meta-analysis of the bupropion studies demonstrated no excess of neuropsychiatric (RR 0.88; 95% CI 0.31 to 2.50) or cardiovascular events (RR 0.77; 95% CI 0.37 to 1.59). SAE meta-analysis of 14 varenicline trials found no difference between the varenicline and placebo arms (RR 1.06; 95% CI 0.72 to 1.55), and subgroup analyses detected no significant excess of neuropsychiatric events (RR 0.53; 95% CI 0.17 to 1.67), or of cardiac events (RR 1.26; 95% CI 0.62 to 2.56). Nortriptyline increased the chances of quitting (RR 2.03; 95% CI 1.48 to 2.78). Neither nortriptyline nor bupropion were shown to enhance the effect of NRT compared with NRT alone. Clonidine increased the chances of quitting (RR 1.63; 95% CI 1.22 to 2.18), but this was offset by a dose-dependent rise in adverse events. Mecamylamine in combination with NRT may increase the chances of quitting, but the current evidence is inconclusive. Other treatments failed to demonstrate a benefit compared with placebo. Nicotine vaccines are not yet licensed for use as an aid to smoking cessation or relapse prevention. Nicobrevin's UK license is now revoked, and the manufacturers of rimonabant, taranabant and dianicline are no longer supporting the development or testing of these treatments. NRT, bupropion, varenicline and cytisine have been shown to improve the chances of quitting. Combination NRT and varenicline are equally effective as quitting aids. Nortriptyline also improves the chances of quitting. On current evidence, none of the treatments appear to have an incidence of adverse events that would mitigate their use. Further research is warranted into the safety of varenicline and into cytisine's potential as an effective and affordable treatment, but not into the efficacy and safety of NRT.

Type

Journal article

Journal

The Cochrane database of systematic reviews

Publication Date

01/12/2013

Volume

5