By Christian Duffin
Twice as many smokers successfully quit if they use varenicline for four weeks before their quit date rather than for just for one week before, according to UK researchers.
A study of 100 smokers attending a stop-smoking clinic were randomly split into two groups: one that received varenicline for four weeks before their target quit date, and the other that received placebo for three weeks before quitting, followed by varenicline for one week. Both groups received varenicline was given for three months after the targeted quit date.
12-week abstinence rates were significantly higher (47.2%) in the varenicline group, compared to 20.8% in the placebo group. It also significantly reduced smoke intake, with 36.7% of participants reducing their salivary cotinine concentrations by more than 50%.
Study leader Professor Peter Hajek, a professor of clinical psychology at the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine in London, concluded: 'Although several issues remain to be clarified, varenicline preloading can generate a substantial reduction in ad lib smoking and enhance 12-week quit rates. Current schedules, involving one week of varenicline pre-quit date, may be leading to suboptimal results.'