Seek more information to help smokers, GPs told

GPs should learn more about the variety of nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) to make the most of the expanded PBS listing of patches for smokers, a leading academic has argued.

University of Sydney professor of general practice Nicholas Zwar told the 8th Annual Future of the PBS conference in Sydney last week the fact that NRTs had been available over the counter for the past decade meant many GPs were not very familiar with them.

Professor Zwar told delegates that a sharp increase in referrals to smoking cessation services such as Quitline – GPs are required to refer a patient to a support program when they write a PBS script for the patches – showed the products were in high demand from the public.

“NRT has the potential to help a large number of patients kick the habit, and GPs should be familiar with the treatment and counselling options to ensure patients wanting to quit get the best support available,” he