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Varenicline (By mouth)

Helps you quit smoking, as part of a support program.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Varenicline is used together with a support program to help you stop smoking. The program will include counseling and educational materials. This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription… Read more
Brand names include
Chantix, Chantix Start Month Pak, Chantix Starter Pack, Chantix Starting Month Box, Chantix Starting Month Pak
Drug classes About this
Smoking Cessation Agent

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Cost-Effectiveness of Varenicline, Bupropion and Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Smoking Cessation [Internet]

Background Smoking is an important risk factor for several diseases, including different cancers, lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases. About 21% of the Norwegian population are daily smokers.

Can nicotine receptor partial agonists, including cytisine and varenicline, help people to stop smoking?

When people stop smoking they experience cravings to smoke and unpleasant mood changes. Nicotine receptor partial agonists aim to reduce these withdrawal symptoms and the pleasure people usually experience when they smoke. The most widely‐available treatment in this drug type is varenicline, which is available world‐wide as an aid for quitting smoking. Cytisine is a similar medication, but is only available in Central and Eastern European countries and through internet sales.

Varenicline: a novel nicotinic receptor partial agonist for smoking cessation

Bibliographic details: Kerr J L, Timpe E M, Karpinski J P.  Varenicline: a novel nicotinic receptor partial agonist for smoking cessation. Journal of Pharmacy Technology 2007; 23(1): 23-29

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Summaries for consumers

Can nicotine receptor partial agonists, including cytisine and varenicline, help people to stop smoking?

When people stop smoking they experience cravings to smoke and unpleasant mood changes. Nicotine receptor partial agonists aim to reduce these withdrawal symptoms and the pleasure people usually experience when they smoke. The most widely‐available treatment in this drug type is varenicline, which is available world‐wide as an aid for quitting smoking. Cytisine is a similar medication, but is only available in Central and Eastern European countries and through internet sales.

Medication for quitting smoking

Taking medication to help you quit smoking can somewhat increase the chances of success. The possible side effects include temporary sleep problems and nausea. Two medications to help people quit smoking tobacco have been approved for use in Germany: bupropion (trade name Zyban) and varenicline (EU: Champix, U.S.: Chantix). They are prescription-only, so they have to be prescribed by a doctor. Statutory health insurers don’t cover the costs of these medications in Germany. There are a lot of studies on the effectiveness of bupropion and varenicline. In the studies, the researchers looked at whether the participants still smoked, or had started smoking again, after 6 to 12 months.

Do any interventions help smokers who have successfully quit for a short time to avoid relapsing?

Some people start smoking again shortly after quitting and are said to have 'relapsed'. Interventions used to help people avoid relapse usually focus on teaching the skills to cope with temptations to smoke. This approach and others have not been shown to be helpful, either for people who quit on their own or with the help of treatment, or for those who quit because they were pregnant or in hospital. Many trials conducted so far have not been of a strong enough design to detect possible small effects. Among drug treatments, extended use of varenicline may help some smokers. Studies of extended use of nicotine replacement treatment are urgently needed.

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