ASH news release 05/12/2006 – Varenicline: guidance for health professionals.

Tuesday 05 December 2006

ASH news release:  Embargo: 00.01 Tuesday 5th December  2006


Varenicline: Guidance for Health Professionals

To coincide with the launch of the new stop smoking drug varenicline in the UK, ASH has issued detailed guidance for health professionals on the new therapy.[1]  The ASH guidance is intended to act as an interim guide until official advice is issued by NICE next year.


Varenicline, to be sold under the brand name Champix in the UK, is a new drug developed specifically for smoking cessation.  It has a different mechanism of action from the other smoking cessation medications available in the UK.  It is thought to work by reducing the strength of the smoker’s urge to smoke and also by relieving craving and withdrawal symptoms.   The main adverse effect is nausea but no serious side effects have yet been found.


The ASH guidance gives further information about the drug, including an overview of the clinical trials that have been carried out so far.  From the results of two randomized controlled trials, cessation rates amongst people using varenicline were statistically significantly better than placebo or bupropion.


Dr Tim Coleman of the Queen’s University Medical Centre in Nottingham, said:


“Smokers will undoubtedly ask GPs about using Varenicline for stopping smoking, so this guidance is very timely advice for busy practitioners.”



Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:


“Varenicline appears to be a useful additional aid to stopping smoking. We anticipate that there will be significant demand for this new drug, given that more than 70% of smokers say that they would like to stop smoking.  We trust that the new guidance will help practitioners prescribe the drug to those patients who are most likely to benefit from it.”




Notes and links:

[1]  The guidance can be viewed at:


Contact: Deborah Arnott  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available


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