NICE approves smoking cessation drug

In collaboration with the Press Association

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended that the drug varenicline (Champix) should be made available on the NHS as a treatment for patients who wish to quit smoking.

Varenicline is the first new anti-tobacco drug to be launched in the UK in the last ten years.

It works by stimulating the same areas of the brain as nicotine, cutting cravings and making smoking feel less satisfying.

Chief executive of NICE, Andrew Dillon, commented: "Having looked at all the evidence, our independent committee considered that varenicline is a good way to help people who want to quit smoking."

Mr Dillon pointed out that the drug should be provided alongside a programme of counselling and support, but noted that in situations where this kind of behavioural support is not available, patients should still be offered varenicline.

"We know that around three out of four smokers want to quit," Mr Dillon continued.

"Smoking is responsible for an estimated 106,000 deaths in the UK each year, and for a wide range of diseases and conditions including cancers, coronary heart disease, impotence and fertility."

The drug's approval will be welcomed by the thousands of people who are believed to be trying to quit smoking following the launch of smokefree legislation in England on July 1st.