In its Final Appraisal Determination, NICE concluded that varenicline was "superior to NRT [nicotine replacement therapy] and bupropion in achieving continuous abstinence" and that its use in smoking cessation was "likely to be a cost-effective use of National Health Service resources."
"This guidance means that smokers who are serious about stopping have another choice from a good range of clinically proven treatments, said Professor Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology at University College London. "Smokers who combine treatments with the right support â for instance from smoking cessation services - could significantly increase their odds of successfully quitting for life."
Champix is the first new prescription aid to smoking cessation treatment in nearly a decade. Pfizer discovered and developed Champix specifically as an aid to smoking cessation through its unique mechanism of action targeting the specific receptor to which nicotine binds. Champix is believed to work by reducing the severity of the smoker's urge to smoke.
"This guidance in the U.K. recognizes the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of Champix, and encourages physicians and smokers to consider this treatment as a new treatment option to help smokers quit smoking," said Jack Watters, MD, Pfizer's Vice President of International Medical Affairs. "The implications of this ruling are particularly timely as they come just before World No Tobacco Day, when organizations and governments around the world will work to implement smoke-free policies, which may further encourage smokers to make a quit attempt."
Smoking, the leading cause of preventable death worldwide, is responsible for five million deaths worldwide each year. By 2010, the World Health Organization estimates the annual global cost of tobacco-related illness to be approximately US$500 billion.
The medication, varenicline, with trade name Chantix (varenicline) in the United States, received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval as an aid to smoking cessation in May 2006. In the European Union, Champix received marketing authorization in September 2006 for use as a smoking cessation aid. For a patient prescribed Champix or Chantix, Pfizer also offers behavioral support, a personalized online interactive program to help smokers quit, at no extra cost. In clinical trials, varenicline was generally well tolerated with overall discontinuation rates similar to placebo. The most frequent side effects included nausea, headache, trouble sleeping and changes in dreaming.
US patients and health care providers can visit www.chantix.com or call 1-877-CHANTIX and register to receive more information about Chantix. For prescribing information, please visit www.chantix.com.