Health & Fitness

New anti-smoking drug improves success rate

WASHINGTON - A new anti-smoking drug improves the odds of success threefold for people who want to quit, an independent research group reported Tuesday.

The drug, called Chantix by its maker, Pfizer Inc., outperformed the antidepressants that helped some quitters in clinical trials that the British-based Cochrane Collaborative reviewed.

In the trials, the antidepressants outperformed the placebos used to measure Chantix's effectiveness by 2 to 1, while Chantix showed a 3-to-1 advantage over the control group.

A third drug-based approach - nicotine replacement therapy - at best only doubled the odds of quitting successfully, according to a 2004 review by Cochrane.

Cochrane's panels of volunteer physicians and health researchers appraise the quality of all known studies and the findings of the most solid ones. Health professionals and insurers study Cochrane's evaluations, published online as the Cochrane Library and available by subscription, for the efficiency they add to health-care spending.

Cochrane's findings on Chantix reinforce the Food and Drug Administration's decision last May to approve the drug on an expedited basis "because of its significant potential benefit to public health."