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More Smokers Kick the Habit With Extended Nicotine Patch Therapy

Posted Feb 01 2010 3:57pm

New research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine may help more smokers keep their New Year’s resolution by helping them quit smoking. Extended use of a nicotine patch – 24 weeks versus the standard eight weeks recommended by manufacturers – boosts the number of smokers who maintain their cigarette abstinence and helps more of those who backslide into the habit while wearing the patchaccording to a study which will be published in the February 2 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Our data suggest that the many smokers who relapse while trying to quit will be especially helped by extended treatmentwhich appears to make it easier for smokers to ‘get back on the wagon’ after a small smoking slipinstead of having it turn into a full-blown relapse,” says lead author Robert SchnollPhDan associate professor of Psychiatry at Penn. “We know that tobacco dependence is a chronicrelapsing condition that may require extended treatmentand we hope our research efforts will encourage physicians to recommend to their patients that they use nicotine patches for a longer duration.”

Schnoll and senior author Caryn LermanPhDa Mary W. Calkins Professor of Psychiatry and Deputy Director of the Abramson Cancer Centerstudied 568 adult smokers who smoked 10 or more cigarettes per day for at least the past year. At the end of the 24-week studysmokers who used a nicotine patch throughout the whole trial were about two times as likely to have been successful in their quitting attempts than those who received a placebo patch after the eighth week of the study: 31.6 percent of extended therapy participants had not smoked in the past seven dayscompared to 20.3 percent of standard therapy participants. More than nineteen percent of participants on the extended patch regimen did not smoke at alleven a puffduring the trialcompared to 12.6 percent of those who stopped getting the active transdermal therapy after week eight. The benefits also extended to those who relapsed during the study: The smokers on extended therapy abstained from cigarettes for longerand were more likely to stop smoking again even if they relapsed.

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