There has been significant media hype recently regarding varenicline, a non-nicotine drug that, if approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, could become a valuable tool for use by smokers who want to stop smoking. Researchers indicate that this new drug works by attaching itself to the same receptors to which nicotine routinely attaches. The manufacturer of varenicline indicates that data from 3 different studies will be valuable in the review of the drug by expert committees. Two of the studies compared varenicline, Zyban (a popular antismoking drug), and placebo (fake drug). In one of the three studies, after 12 weeks almost 18 percent of those in the placebo group, 30 percent in the Zyban group, and 44 percent in the varenicline group had quit smoking. A comparison of those who were still not smoking at the end of a year was highest in the varenicline group.
Heart and lung problems are at the top of list of smoking-related health problems. Experts point to the continuing need for therapies that help smokers. In addition to this drug, at least one other drug and two vaccines are being evaluated for smoking cessation.