London: Global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has developed a pill that helps smokers quit the addiction.
The trials of the drug Champix in Britain show that it is effective after a 12-week course, with 44 percent of smokers stopping, reported the online edition of Daily Mail.
"Smokers can take it for longer than 12 weeks if necessary and the overall quit rates then rise," it said.
The most common side effect of the pill is, however, nausea, which is generally mild and transient. But fewer than three percent of smokers discontinued treatment because of this.
Smoking cessation is a major plank of preventive health policy, and smokers who want to kick their habit can visit their GP and be prescribed various nicotine replacement therapies such as skin patches, gum and inhalers.
These work by supplying the body with a steady stream of nicotine after the user has stopped smoking, which allows the cravings to diminish.
Zyban, another drug available to help smokers, works differently -- it is actually an anti-depressant that lessens former smokers' desire to take up the habit again.
Champix is also nicotine-free, but works in an entirely different way -- by binding to nicotine receptors in the brain reducing the severity of cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.
By interfering with the release of the "pleasure" chemical dopamine, Champix also reduces the satisfaction gained from smoking.
Each year, about 114,000 deaths in Britain are attributed to smoking.
"Seventy percent of smokers would like to give up," said Dr Alex Bobak, a London based physician with special interest in smoking cessation.
This new medicine gives National Health Service (NHS) Stop Smoking Services and healthcare providers another weapon against smoking addiction, which costs the NHS 1.5 billion pounds in direct costs each year
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