Cigarette smoking is the single most important preventable cause of morbidity, mortality and excess health care costs in the United States and accounts for 30% of U.S. cancer deaths. Varenicline and bupropion SR (sustained-release) are non nicotine pharmacotherapies FDA-indicated for the treatment of tobacco dependence in cigarette smokers. Although varenicline has proven greater efficacy than bupropion SR, both medications are associated with high end-of-treatment smoking abstinence rates. However, almost two-thirds of smokers treated with varenicline report smoking at 6 months. Because varenicline and bupropion SR have different mechanisms of action and different neuropharmacologic targets, combination pharmacotherapy with these agents may increase long-term smoking abstinence rates above what is observed with single-agent therapy. In our recent pilot study of combination therapy with varenicline and bupropion SR, we observed treatment to be well-tolerated with 7-day point prevalence smoking abstinence rates of 71% (95% CI: 54-85%) at 3 months and 58% (95% CI: 41-74%) at 6 months. Determining the efficacy of combination therapy compared to single-agent therapy has immediate and important clinical implications. In this study, we will conduct a randomized, multicenter, controlled clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of combination therapy with bupropion SR and varenicline compared to varenicline and placebo in 450 cigarette smokers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN.
Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 480,000 people in the United States each year. Despite the best therapies, almost two-thirds of patients go back to smoking by 6 months. Combining medications together may increase the long-term smoking quit rates and decrease the death and disability associated with cigarette smoking.
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