Varenicline was found to be a more effective smoking cessation therapy for women than for men, when compared to the transdermal nicotine patch (TNP). Findings from this study were published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Previous studies of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy have reported important differences in efficacy based on gender. To analyze these findings in a real-world context, researchers used cross-sectional data from the Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS) 2010–2011. They identified propensity score matched smokers who quit using only varenicline therapy, TNP therapy, or no medication assistance. The authors estimated the differences in effectiveness of these smoking cessation therapies (achieving 30-days of abstinence) with regards to gender.

The data showed TNP was significantly more effective vs. no medication assisted quit attempts for males (odds ratio [OR] 1.37, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.83; P=0.03) but not for females (OR 0.96, 95% CI: 0.71, 1.31; P=0.82). 

Varenicline, on the other hand, was significantly more effective vs. no medication assisted quit attempts for females (OR 1.63, 95% CI: 1.16, 2.31; P=0.005) but not for males (OR 1.35, 95% CI: 0.94, 1.96; P=0.11). For females, varenicline also proved more effective compared to TNP (OR 1.51, 95% CI: 0.12, 2.05; P=0.007) but this was not the case for males (OR 0.92, 95% CI: 0.65, 1.31; P=0.64).

The researchers reported that a significant gender by medication interaction was seen only when comparing varenicline to TNP (OR 1.64, 95% CI: 1.04, 2.61; P=0.04).

The study’s findings point to the “importance of considering gender when offering treatment for smoking cessation,” concluded study author Philip H. Smith.

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