Medical Help to Quit Smoking

Bupropion and nicotine replacement therapy helped people quit smoking

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Quitting smoking is hard, but you don't have to do it alone. Some medical treatments have been shown to help.

A recent study showed that the medication bupropion and nicotine replacement therapy, combined with behavioral support, helped a quarter of tobacco users stop smoking.

This study also showed that bupropion may work better for smokers with depression.

"Ask your doctor about help to quit smoking."

John Stapleton, MSc, with the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College in London, and colleages conducted this study to look at how well bupropion and nicotine replacement therapy worked for people trying to quit smoking.

The researchers also wanted to find out if combining the two treatments worked better than using only one medication. 

Bupropion is a medication prescribed by doctors for patients to help reduce nicotine cravings. It is sold under the brand names Wellbutrin and Zyban among others. 

Nicotine replacement therapy delivers nicotine to the body without tobacco. Common forms of nicotine replacement include nicotine gum, patches, lozenges and sprays.

The research for this study took place in the United Kingdom at four different clinics that specialize in helping people quit smoking.

The study was an open trial, meaning both the researchers and people in the trial knew which treatment they were getting. The trial lasted six months.

There were 1,071 tobacco users participating in the study. Every participant in the study had seven weekly behavioral support sessions to help them quit. Each person was also assigned a treatment randomly. The participants either received nicotine replacement therapy, bupropion or both nicotine replacement and bupropion at the same time.

The people in the study told the researchers whether they still smoked. Blood tests taken one month after the trial began and six months after the trial began confirmed their results.

The researchers found that nearly 28 percent of the people on bupropion were successful in quitting smoking. They also found that about 24 percent of the people on nicotine replacement were successful in quitting tobacco. About 24 percent of the people in the third group, who received both treatments, were successful in quitting.

The researchers noted that bupropion may be more effective for people who suffer from depression. Nicotine replacement has fewer side effects than bupropion.

The authors concluded that bupropion, nicotine replacement therapy and a combination of both all work equally well when combined with professional behavioral support.

"The authors of this article make it quite clear that if you are ready to quit smoking, there is hope.  Regardless of whether you are treated with a buproprion, nicotine replacement therapy, or a combination of both; as long as you combine your medication treatment with behavioral therapy, you will have a 25% chance of quitting smoking," Steve Leuck, PharmD, owner and president of AudibleRx, told dailyRx News. "If you are ready to quit smoking, please talk with your doctor to help you decide which medication regimen would be best for you, and don't forget to also register for the smoking cessation behavioral support class."

Bupropion costs approximately $30 for a 30-day supply. Consumers can save money by purchasing generics.

Nicotine gum costs approximately $50 for 100 pieces of gum. Nicotine patches cost around $25 for a one-week supply. Prices vary by brand and pharmacy.

This study was published online July 17 in the Addiction Journal.

The study was funded by the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University College London, the Addictions Department at Kings College London and the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

Five of the authors work as consultants to pharmaceutical companies, but six of the authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
July 19, 2013
Last Updated:
July 31, 2013