Champix recommended by UK body

June 15, 2007

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK has recommended Pfizer?s Champix (varenicline) for use on the NHS for adult smokers who have expressed a desire to quit.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK has recommended Pfizer's Champix (varenicline) for use on the NHS for adult smokers who have expressed a desire to quit. This gives UK smokers access to another important treatment option to help them quit their addiction.

NICE concluded that varenicline was "superior to NRT [nicotine replacement therapy] and bupropion in achieving continuous abstinence." In light of this, the agency declared that its use in smoking cessation was "likely to be a cost-effective use of NHS resources".

"This guidance means that smokers who are serious about stopping have another choice from a good range of clinically proven treatments," said Robert West, professor of Health Psychology at University College London. "Smokers who combine treatments with the right support — for instance from smoking cessation services — could significantly increase their odds of successfully quitting for life."

Chantix (varenicline) received FDA approval as an aid to smoking cessation in May last year. In the EU, Champix received marketing authorization in September 2006 for the same purpose. The drug was developed by Pfizer as such an aid through its novel mechanism of action targeting the specific receptor to which nicotine binds. It is believed to work by reducing the severity of the smoker's urge to smoke. It blocks the pleasure receptors in the brain associated with cigarette smoking and nicotine, and reduces the level of withdrawal symptoms that often cause a return to the addiction.

Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, is responsible for five million deaths each year. By 2010,WHO estimates the annual global cost of tobacco-related illness to be approximately $500 billion.

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