New Pfizer smoking cessation drug shows promise

Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that Pfizer’s soon-to-launch smoking cessation drug Chantix (varenicline) appears to increase the numbers of patients who are able to give up smoking, the company said. Data in the journal article show that approximately 44% of patients treated with Chantix quit smoking by the end of the 12-week treatment period versus 30 percent who used GlaxoSmithKline’s Zyban and Wellbutrin, antidepressants also approved for smoking cessation, and 18% who used placebo. Chantix’s main ingredient, varenicline, is a new molecular entity that was granted FDA priority review. The drug works by blocking nicotine’s pleasurable effects and reducing the craving and withdrawal symptoms of quitting smoking. Chantix is expected to hit pharmacy shelves in August. Annual global sales of Chantix could peak at $900 million with only indirect competition from the GlaxoSmithKline brands. Euro RSCG Life is responsible for professional advertising duties for Chantix, while Saatchi & Saatchi will handle consumer advertising. Wunderman is working on a Chantix support program.