2024 is now here and some of you might have made a New Year's resolution to quit smoking. To keep you up with your resolution, a new study on Monday said that "Cytisine", a low-cost, generic stop-smoking aid that has been used in Eastern Europe since the 1960s, increases the chances of successful smoking cessation by more than two-fold compared with placebo and may be more effective than nicotine replacement therapy.
Cytisine is not licensed in most parts of the world
While this sounds perfect for your New Year resolution, there's a catch. Cytisine is not licensed or marketed in most countries outside of central and eastern Europe, making it unavailable in most of the world, including many low and middle-income countries, according to the study published in the journal Addiction. Cytisine is a plant-based compound that eases smoking withdrawal symptoms. It was first synthesised as Tabex in Bulgaria in 1964, and it later expanded to other nations in Eastern Europe and Asia, where it is still marketed.
Cytisine has the potential to reduce smoking in LAMI countries
"Our study adds to the evidence that cytisine is an effective and inexpensive stop-smoking aid. It could be very useful in reducing smoking in LAMI (low and middle-income) countries where cost-effective smoking cessation drugs are urgently needed," lead author Dr Omar De Santi said. "Worldwide, smoking is considered the main cause of preventable death. Cytisine has the potential to be one of the big answers to that problem," he added.
This study pooled the results of eight randomised controlled trials comparing cytisine with placebo, with nearly 6,000 patients. The combined data demonstrated that cytisine when compared to placebo, increased the probability of successful smoking cessation by more than twofold. The study also looked at two randomised controlled trials comparing cytisine with nicotine replacement therapy, with modest results in favour of cytisine, and three trials comparing cytisine with varenicline, without a clear benefit for cytisine.