WEDNESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- For people trying to quit smoking, the drug cytisine works better than a placebo, and its comparatively low cost makes it an appealing alternative to newer stop-smoking medications, researchers say.
Over the course of a year, researchers found cytisine, a nicotine substitute, more effective than a placebo in helping smokers stop the habit, and the researchers said its affordability could be an advantage in poorer countries.
"Many smokers can stop without help, but many are addicted and will continue until they die unless they get help," said lead researcher Robert West, from the Health Behaviour Research Center at University College London in England.
"The key feature of this drug is that it is extremely cheap and so affordable by just about anyone in the world who can afford to smoke," he added.
Cytisine, sold as Tabex in former socialist economy countries for four decades, has now been shown to be an effective and safe way of helping smokers quit, West added. But it does not have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval, so it is not available in the United States.
The drug is extracted from the Cytisus laborinum L. (Golden Rain acacia) plant, and as a smoking-cessation aid it is similar to nicotine replacement drugs such as Chantix, patches and gums.
In Poland, where the study was done, cytisine costs $15 for a course of treatment, the researchers noted. In China, an 8-week course of nicotine-replacement therapy costs $230; an 8-week course of Zyban (bupropion) costs $123 and a 12-week course of Chantix (vareniclene) costs $327, while a pack of cigarettes typically costs 73 cents and sometimes much less, they said.
"Cytisine could save many thousands of lives, particularly in low- and middle-income countries," West said. "But it could also save health care systems and insurers in high-income count
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