Getting smokers to quit smoking sometimes requires medical intervention, such as varenicline and bupropion; however, there have been concerns about the safety of these smoking cessation treatments in smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Published Online: May 10, 2017
Getting smokers to quit smoking sometimes requires medical intervention, such as varenicline and bupropion; however, there have been concerns about the safety of these smoking cessation treatments in smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
A new study published in Thorax analyzed data on 14,350 patients with COPD, including 10,426 who had received a prescription of nicotine replacement therapy, 350 who had a prescription for bupropion, and 3574 on varenicline.
“COPD is irreversible and worsens with time,” Professor Daniel Kotz of the Institute of General Practice of the Heinrich-Heine-University Dusseldorf, said in a statement. “The only proven way to stop the illness from progressing is to quit tobacco smoking.”
The drug varenicline, also known as Chantix, has been linked to depression, self-harm, and suicide; however, it has been the most effective medication to help smokers quit. The researchers found that neither bupropion nor varenicline had an increased risk of adverse events. Patients had been followed for 6 months to compare incidence of cardiovascular, such as stroke, heart failure, and cardiac arrhythmia, and neuropsychiatric events, such as depression and self-harm.
In fact, the authors reported that varenicline was associated with a reduced risk of heart failure and depression for these patients compared with the control group (patients with COPD who received nicotine replacement therapy).
“Varenicline is a highly effective anti-smoking drug so it is reassuring that our findings have confirmed that it is safe for use in patients with COPD,” said Professor Aziz Sheikh, co-director of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Medical Informatics.