With varenicline currently unavailable, it is possible that cytisine might serve as an alternative pharmacotherapy to help patients to stop smoking.
Smoking has wide-reaching adverse health effects and is a major cause of premature death, yet some eight million people across the world die every year due to the effects of smoking. Smoking cessation aids such as varenicline are effective at increasing smoking quit rates, but this drug is currently unavailable in both Europe and the UK due to the presence of potential cancer-causing properties.
One largely unknown product with a similar mode of action to varenicline is cytisine, which has been used as an aid to smoking cessation for over 50 years in Eastern Europe. While there is now a good detail of clinical data supporting its efficacy, cytisine is not licensed for use in either Europe or the US. Fortunately, one US company has recently completed several randomised trials on cytisine with a view to gaining FDA and, ultimately, UK and European approval.
Read a full analysis of the clinical and cost-effective data supporting cytisine, and explore some of the reasons why, to date, the drug has not received more widespread regulatory approval, on our sister site Hospital Healthcare Europe.