Smoking quit rate higher with combination therapy

The randomised trial of 446 participants took place over a 12-week treatment period, with a further 12 weeks of follow-up across seven centres in South Africa from April 2011 to October 2012.

The participants were divided into two groups and received either varenicline and a nicotine patch or varenicline and a placebo patch.   

Tobacco abstinence was tested by exhaled carbon monoxide measurements at intervals throughout the 24 weeks. The primary end point was four weeks of continuous abstinence from weeks nine through 12 of treatment.   

At the end of the 12-week treatment period, participants who received varenicline and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) were more likely to achieve continuous abstinence at 55.4% compared to 40.9% for varenicline plus placebo. 

At 24 weeks, 49% of varenicline plus NRT participants were still abstaining, compared to 32.6% of varenicline plus placebo patients.