The University of California study looked at the safety and efficacy of three first line smoking cessation treatments – varenicline, bupropion and nicotine patches – compared to placebo in smokers with and without psychiatric disorders and found than smokers, who took varenicline achieved higher abstinence rates than smokers on bupropion, nicotine patches, or placebo.
The study involved more than 8000 people and was requested by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) following concerns about the neuropsychiatric safety of varenicline and bupropion.
Lead author Robert M. Anthenelli said that the clinical guidelines recommend that the most effective way to give up smoking is smoking cessation medication and counselling. However, smokers do not use these services enough, in part due to concerns that the medications may not be safe.
Anthenelli added that the findings, together with data from previous trials and large observational studies, make it highly unlikely that varenicline and bupropion increase the risk of moderate-to-severe neuropsychiatric side effects in smokers without psychiatric disorders.