86% Failure Rate for Champix

“In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind phase II clinical trial, 638 men and women aged 18-65 who smoked an average of 10 cigarettes per day during the previous year, without a period of abstinence of more than 3 months, where put on placebo, bupropion (another drug used as a smoking cessation aid, brand name Zyban┬«), or different treatment schedules of varenicline for 7 weeks. Subjects were tested for continuous quitting by measuring exhaled carbon monoxide. After one year, the success rates were 14.4%, 6.3% and 4.9% for varenicline, bupropion and placebo, respectively.”

That was from WikiNews, August 15 2006. Link to this article at the end of this post.

This is interesting because it demonstrates what we can expect in long-term results from new medications (boosted by hype and fresh expectations) compared to old ones which no longer are. Elsewhere on this site I have quoted results for willpower alone from various studies giving us figures of anywhere between 4% to 8% when the results are reviewed at one year. So the placebo (dummy medication) figure given above, 4.9%, is entirely consistent with that. But look how Zyban (bupropion) had also fallen within the normal placebo or willpower range by 2006, whereas earlier reports had suggested it had long-term outcomes of around 13% to 14% – same as the new varenicline (champix, chantix) scores here. So will Champix too fall back within the expected range for willpower or dummy pills once all the hype has passed?

It seems likely. We have certainly seen that with Nicotine Replacement products which were credited with 10% to 20% success rates when the University of Iowa study was carried out in 1992, but we now know from several different independent studies that the current outcomes at one year are a miserable 5% to 6%, once again well within the willpower range.

So this indicates that even in 2006, the long-term outcomes of this so-called “new wonder drug” were no better than the previous “wonder drug” Zyban, which is no longer even managing a miserable 14% success rate now that it isn’t regarded by anyone as a wonder drug any more. Clearly, the difference is entirely accounted for by suggestion and heightened expectation.

That’s not science. That’s marketing. And a complete waste of precious NHS resources.

WikiNews August 15 2006

Hypnotherapy works best, according to the study by the University of Iowa. Find out more in the Evidence section of this site, and here.

Meanwhile, the reports of bad reactions are piling up just as I predicted last year (link).