(HealthDay News) — Varenicline in combination with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is more effective than varenicline alone in achieving tobacco abstinence at 12 weeks and at six months, according to a study published in the July 9 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Coenraad F.N. Koegelenberg, MD, PhD, from Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa, and colleagues randomized 446 generally healthy smokers (1:1) to receive varenicline plus either a nicotine or placebo patch. Patch treatment began two weeks before a target quit date (TQD; one week for varenicline) and continued for 12 additional weeks. Exhaled carbon monoxide measurements confirmed tobacco abstinence at TQD and at intervals up to 24 weeks.

The researchers found that the combination treatment was associated with a higher continuous abstinence rate at 12 weeks (55.4 vs. 40.9%; odds ratio [OR], 1.85; P=0.007) and at 24 weeks (49.0 vs. 32.6%; OR, 1.98; P=0.004), as well as point prevalence abstinence rate at six months (65.1 vs. 46.7%; OR, 2.13; P=0.002). There was a numerically greater incidence of adverse effects (nausea, sleep disturbance, skin reactions, constipation, and depression) in the combination treatment group, but only skin reactions reached statistical significance (14.4 vs. 7.8&; P=0.03).

“Further studies are needed to assess long-term efficacy and safety,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, which manufactures varenicline and funded the study.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)