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GPs favour NRT over bupropion for smokers

GPs advising smokers on quitting are far more likely to prescribe nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) than bupropion (Zyban), Government statistics reveal.

A new statistical bulletin shows NRT was prescribed to around 75 per cent of smokers setting a quit date after advice from NHS smoking cessation services in England during 2002/3. Just 11 per cent were prescribed bupropion ­ only

1 per cent used both.

The bulletin says practices wrote 1.169 million prescriptions for NRT during 2002/3 and 124,000 for bupropion.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has said that both NRT and bupropion are 'among the most cost-effective of all health care interventions'. It concluded both NRT and bupropion roughly doubled the chances of a smoker quitting successfully.

Dr Graham Archard, a GP in Dorset and chair of clinical networks at the RCGP, said the choice between bupropion and NRT was made by patients not GPs. 'People feel that if they are using a patch they are not taking a medication,' he said.

The number of smokers quitting in 2002/3 was 124,100 ­ up from 119,800 in 2001/2.

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