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Extended Use of Nicotine Patch Linked to Benefits

Longer use associated with higher abstinence rates, but benefits may only last during treatment

TUESDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The use of transdermal nicotine patches for an extended duration, compared to the standard eight-week therapy, may improve the chances of smoking abstinence, according to research published in the Feb. 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Robert A. Schnoll, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed data from 568 adult smokers who were randomized to receive either 24 weeks of transdermal nicotine therapy or eight weeks of therapy followed by 16 weeks of placebo. The primary outcome was seven-day point prevalence abstinence at weeks 24 and 52, verified by carbon monoxide assessment.

At week 24, the researchers found that those in the extended group had higher rates of point-prevalence abstinence (31.6 versus 20.3 percent) and continuous abstinence (19.2 versus 12.6 percent). Extended therapy was also associated with a lower risk of lapses and better chance of recovery from a lapse. However, point-prevalence abstinence was similar in the groups at 52 weeks (roughly 14 percent).

"Our study demonstrates the benefits of extended-duration therapy with transdermal nicotine and encourages a reexamination of the recommended duration of tobacco-dependence treatment using nicotine patches. Maintaining smokers on transdermal nicotine for 24 weeks improved end-of-treatment abstinence rates compared with standard eight-week treatment and did not increase adverse events or side effects. However, this benefit was lost when therapy was discontinued," the authors write.

One author reported serving as a consultant to GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures a nicotine patch; the author also reported financial relationships with other pharmaceutical companies.

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