New drug promises hope for addicted smokers

Monday 26 June 2000

102 Clifton Street,London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press Release
Embargo: immediate 26th June 2000
Action on Smoking
and Health

New drug promises hope for addicted smokers

Commenting onthe launch of Zyban (bupropion) a new smoking cessation treatment from GlaxoWellcome, Clive Bates, Director of ASH said:

“By using these anti-smoking drugs to deal with the addiction to tobacco, you are effectively treating in advance all the various illness that smoking eventually causes.  This is new thinking and important in the modernisation of the NHS – if you deal with the causes rather than wait for the consequences of smoking, you can save a lot of money and avoid a lot of misery and ill health.”

“Zyban works by de-sensitising thebrain’s nicotine receptors and has performed very well in trials.  For a lot of smokers it offers a real hope thatthey will finally overcome their addiction to cigarettes.”

“The great thing about making products like this available on prescription [1] is that general practitioners will involve themselves much more closely in their patients’ efforts to quit smoking.  Every doctor knows that just about the best all round health improvement comes from quitting smoking.”

ASH was keen to stress that this is a useful addition to the products to help smokers quit, and not an alternative to the nicotine replacement products.

“For some smokers Zyban will be just the thing, but for other NRT or even the two in combination will be the right choice.  Zyban has restrictions on its use and more serious side effects than NRT, and NRT is more readily available.  With all the products now available we have a better chance of helping smokers to quit.”

However, ASH cast doubt on some of the claims made for the product.

“We have to watch out for wonder-drug hype about Zyban. It’s good but it’s not a silver bullet – smokers are still going to need lots of willpower and determination to keep trying.” said Bates [2]

[1] The Government has yet to formally declare whether Zyban will be made available on NHS ‘reimbursable’ prescription (i.e. publicly funded) but is widely expected to do this. The Government is also considering whether to blacklist all nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products -currently only those products announced before 1997 are blacklisted (i.e. not publicly funded).  Smoking costs the NHS £1.7 billion per year, and expenditure on smoking cessation is one of the most cost-effective health interventions known.

[2] See ASH press briefing on claims forZyban efficacy and its performance relative to NRT.


Contact Clive Bates, ASH (020) 7739 5902

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