Anti-smoking drugs such as varenicline, nicotine patches and bupropion don’t increase the risk for depression and anxiety, a new study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found. Given the mounting concern of the side effects of smoking cessation drugs, the research was conducted to find out if there were actual reasons to believe such medications were linked to increased psychiatric conditions.
Robert Anthenelli, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, said smokers didn’t use enough recommended services to give up smoking, including smoking cessation medication and counseling, which are the most effective ones. He believes this is partly because they are concerned that the drugs may be unsafe for mental health.
The FDA randomized study, supported by drug makers GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, involved more than 8,000 people between the ages of 18 and 75 years old. They smoked at least 10 cigarettes per day but wanted to quit. The clinical trial was conducted between Nov. 30, 2011, and Jan. 13, 2015.
About 50 percent of the smokers involved in the study were diagnosed with mental condition. Some of the participants were given 21 milligrams per day of nicotine patch, others 150 milligrams of bupropion every twelve hours and another group received 1 milligram of varenicline twice a day. The rest received a placebo, as they are the control group for the test without their knowledge.
In all cases, they received treatment for 12 weeks followed by another 12 weeks of no treatment. The long period of time of both the treatment and what comes afterwards provided researchers with a wide range to determine their condition overall. Researchers assessed their mental health conditions in both parts of the clinical trial.
Results showed mental condition is not at stake
The study revealed that there was no increased risk of adverse mental events among smokers with no mental condition, regardless of the type of smoking cessation treatment they received. Smokers who had been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition reported these events more frequently, but Laurie Zawertailo, addiction expert and author of the study’s editorial, said they were not linked to the medication used.
Those participants with mental conditions were less likely to give up smoking, but the findings also showed that veranicline is the most effective among all the treatment drugs, with 21.8 percent smokers abstaining. Still, the rest of the options worked better than the placebo.
The researchers, however, say the study has limitations. One of them is the fact that it doesn’t answer the question whether the same results can be expected among smokers who have been diagnosed with mental illness but haven’t been treated. The study was published in the journal Lancet on April 22.
Source: Tech Times