Monday, May 29, 2006


What an inscrutable name for a smoking cessation treatment!

Clinical trials indicate that Chantix (varenicline) is better than Wellbutrin (Zyban, buproprion) for parting smokers from smokes. Despite a weensy bit of nausea, Chantix users threw away their cigarettes AND did not dig them back out of the trash significantly more often than the trial participants on Wellbutrin.

I've mentioned previously that nicotine binds to certain receptors in the brain where it sets off a rewarding release of dopamine. Chantix also gloms onto these alpha4beta2 receptors--better than nicotine--causing a little dopamine surge but not a big reinforcing one. As a result, nicotine withdrawal symptoms are squashed, but the smoker becomes accustomed over 12 weeks of therapy to life without those cigarette highs.

As The National Commission on Prevention Priorities has tapped tobacco-use counseling as one of my top three health-promoting strategies in patient care, let's hope this little hummer of a drug delivers on its promise.

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