Gender Differences for Chantix

Varenicline (Chantix) for smoking cessation may initially help women more than men

(RxWiki News) If you're a man taking Chantix and aren't seeing immediate results, don't get discouraged just yet. New evidence suggests that the popular anti-smoking aid may help women more than men — but only at first.

A new study from Yale University found that the smoking cessation drug varenicline (brand name Chantix) may initially be more effective for women than men. However, after one year, the drug was found to be equally effective for both genders.

"Studies show that women have a harder time quitting smoking than men, even as quitting has shown greater benefits to women's cardiovascular and respiratory health," said lead study author Sherry McKee, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Yale, in a press release. "With this first comprehensive analysis of sex differences in the effectiveness of this drug, now women and their healthcare providers can better decide how to successfully quit and live longer, healthier lives."

According to these researchers, tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable sickness and death in the US, killing more than 556,000 people and amounting to more than $96 billion in medical expenses each year.

Past studies have found that other smoking cessation aids, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), tend to be less effective in women. According to Dr. McKee and team, the findings of this study may reduce the gender disparity typically seen with these other aids.

For this study, Dr. McKee and team looked at clinical trial data on 6,710 smokers who used Chantix through Dec. 31, 2014.

While these researchers did confirm that women tended to be less likely than men to quit when on placebo, Chantix was found to be 46 percent more effective for women after three months of treatment.

After six months of treatment, Chantix was similarly found to be 31 percent more effective for women for maintaining total tobacco abstinence.

After one year, however, Chantix was found to be equally effective for both men and women.

"While it's clear that sex differences in varenicline efficacy exist, we don't yet know why varenicline is particularly effective for women," Dr. McKee said, adding that gender differences in the brain's nicotine receptor system may be partly responsible.

This study was published Oct. 7 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

The National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse funded this research.

No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
October 7, 2015