Smokers will soon have another medication to help them kick the habit. The drug, known as varenicline, represents a new class of anti-smoking aid. It's believed to alter levels of two brain chemicals -- dopamine and norepinephrine. Studies suggest that the drug reduces both the craving for cigarettes and the feelings of withdrawal. And if you light up while on the drug, it reduces your sense of satisfaction from the cigarette.
In fact, this week, three encouraging studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The trials, all financed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., suggest varenicline works better than placebos and drugs currently on the market.
However, an editorial in the journal warns that the new drug is "no panacea" for those seeking an easy way to quit smoking. Nearly 30 per cent of volunteers reported feelings of nausea and a majority still failed to quit smoking.
Pfizer has already won approval to sell the drug in the United States, where it will be known by the brand name Chantix. A spokesman for Pfizer Canada Inc. said it will seek Health Canada's approval to sell it here, too.