Relapsed smokers can be successfully re-treated

March 23, 2001

OHSU study indicates that drug works well the second time around

PORTLAND, Ore. - In one of the first "recycling" studies to examine people who attempt to quit smoking after first failing medical treatment, researchers at Oregon Health Sciences University and their colleagues found abstinence rates five times greater for participants taking bupropion compared to participants taking a placebo. Study results are being presented at 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Annual Meeting in Seattle.

"Patients often feel discouraged following treatment with medications such as bupropion or nicotine patches if they are unable to successfully quit smoking," said David Gonzales, Ph.D., director of the OHSU Smoking Cessation Center and lead author of the study results. "However, evidence-based options for patients in this situation have been few. This is the first study to show that smokers can be retreated with bupropion successfully."

Bupropion, marketed in sustained release form as Zyban, is a nicotine-free prescription medication designed to reduce nicotine cravings and other symptoms normally associated with nicotine withdrawal. The multicenter study involved 450 adult cigarette smokers who averaged 15 cigarettes per day prior to the study, and who had been unable to quit or had relapsed after a previous course of bupropion. Study participants were randomly selected to receive bupropion SR or a placebo.

Typically, people who attempt to quit smoking on their own experience 5 percent to 7 percent success rates, while smokers who try bupropion a first time generally enjoy a better-than-30 percent long-term success rate. In this study, smokers re-treated with the drug had a 27 percent abstinence rate after seven weeks, compared to 5 percent abstinence for the placebo group. At 12 weeks, 20 percent of smokers being re-treated were still smoke free compared to three percent of the subjects in the placebo group.
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Zyban is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals.

Oregon Health & Science University

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