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Varenicline in the routine treatment of tobacco dependence: a pre–post comparison with nicotine replacement therapy and an evaluation in those with mental illness

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ABSTRACT Aims 

To compare the effectiveness of varenicline with nicotine replacement for smoking cessation and to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of varenicline in people with mental illness. Design 

Evaluation of consecutive routine cases before and after the introduction of varenicline. Setting 

National Health Service (NHS) tobacco dependence clinic in London, UK. Participants 

A total of 412 cases receiving routine care. Intervention 

Seven group support sessions over 6 weeks with either nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) (n = 204) or varenicline (n = 208). Measurements 

Verified abstinence 4 weeks after quit day, severity of withdrawal symptoms, incidence and severity of adverse drug symptoms, cost per patient treated and cost per successful short-term quitter. Findings 

Short-term cessation rates were higher with varenicline than NRT (odds ratio = 1.70, 95% confidence interval = 1.09–2.67). Varenicline was equally effective in those with and without mental illness. Craving to smoke, but not adverse mood, was less severe with varenicline than NRT. The cost per quitter was similar for varenicline and NRT. There was a higher incidence of adverse drug symptoms among those taking varenicline, but these were tolerated by most smokers. There was no evidence that varenicline exacerbated mental illness. Conclusions 

In this setting and with group support varenicline appears to improve success rates over those achieved with NRT, and is equally effective and safe in those with and without a mental illness.
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Keywords: Cost; craving; mental illness; nicotine replacement; smoking cessation; varenicline

Document Type: Research Report

Affiliations: South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Tobacco Dependence Clinic, UK and

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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