The 2 most widely used medications to quit smoking are Zyban and Chantix. Here are the success rates of both.
Anti-depressants (Zyban or Wellbutrin)
You need to do a bit of digging to find them, but success rates are published on Zyban’s website. In one study, Zyban’s 6-month quit rate was 18% vs. 11% for placebo.
In other words, despite the expense ($450) and the widely reported side-effects, fewer than one in five smokers successfully quit with Zyban (and more than half of them would have quit with the placebo). It should also be noted that the 18% success rate also includes a significant amount of counseling, so the real life quit rate is possibly a good deal lower.
Chantix / Champix
The Chantix website quotes a success rate of 44%, but there are strings attached. First, this is a 12-week success rate, not 6 or 12 months as is the norm. As such the numbers should be viewed with care.
Second, this success rate, as with Zyban, includes an element of counseling. Third, the 12-week figure might potentially be misleading because at that time, the subject has just completed the course of strong medication and its effects are still very significant. What happens when the effects wear off?
Unfortunately recently published research provides the answer: fully half of the 44% who had quit at 12 weeks were back smoking within a year.
Other recent studies tally with this, showing the 12-month quit rate using Chantix to be 22%, but as mentioned above this is under artificial trial conditions. How much of Chantix’s 22% one-year quitting rate is due to Chantix and how much is attributable to the 26 one-on-one counseling sessions with their Chantix provider? How many real-world quitters will have the benefit of 26 support sessions with their physician?
Chantix is serious medication and isn’t for everyone – in addition to your $500 bill
Both Zyban and Chantix plus the counseling sessions are not cheap if your local health service doesn’t cover the cost. As both medicines require counseling, it’s hard to determine the exact percentage of the success rate that each medicine is responsible for alone. There are also side effects associated with both medicines, some quite serious. Long term success rates for both Zyban and Chantix are also questionable.
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