Nicotine Patches, Gums Fail to Help Smokers Stay Off Cigarettes

Nicotine-replacing gums and patches like those from GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) and Pfizer Inc. (PFE) failed to help smokers who quit the habit stay off cigarettes, even when used with professional counseling, a study found.

Researchers surveying 781 former smokers found almost a third relapsed even after using nicotine replacement products. Scientists said the results cast doubt on the long-term benefit of products like Pfizer’s Nicotrol inhaler and GlaxoSmithKline’s NicoDerm CQ patch and Nicorette gum, leaders in a market worth $1.2 billion annually, according to IMS Health, a research firm.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should only approve products that have been shown to help smokers quit and stay off cigarettes for years, said researcher Gregory Connolly, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard School of Public Health, in a statement. The investigators also questioned the benefit of using government funds to provide the public with nicotine replacement therapies.

“This study shows that using nicotine replacement therapy is no more effective in helping people stop smoking cigarettes in the long-term than trying to quit on one’s own,” said lead author Hillel Alpert, a Harvard research scientist.

While the therapies helped smokers quit in clinical trials where patients are carefully monitored, the study published online yesterday by the journal Tobacco Control shows they’re less effective in a real-world setting, Alpert said. The National Cancer Institute funded the research.


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