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Quit Smoking: Prescription Works Better For Women Than Men

First Posted: Oct 13, 2015 06:58 AM EDT

One of the most popular prescription drugs varenicline, marketed as Chantix used to quit smoking was more effective for women initially than with men, according to a study by Yale School of Medicine.

In their study researchers found that at varenicline worked better for women at first, then a year later it was equally effective for both men and women who used the drug, they revealed in a news release.

Women have a harder time quitting smoking than men and studies have shown that there are greater benefits to women's cardiovascular and respiratory health, according to Sherry McKee, lead researcher of Yale's Specialized Center of Research focused on gender and tobacco dependence.

"With this first comprehensive analysis of sex differences in the effectiveness of this drug, now women and their health care providers can better decide how to successfully quit and live longer, healthier lives," McKee said.

Tobacco is one of the leading causes of sickness and death in the United States. Over 556,000 people die each year due to tobacco use and an average of $96 billion is spent yearly in medical expenses.  

After three months of treatment, the researchers found that varenicline was 46 percent more effective in women and 31 percent more effective at maintaining complete resistance after six months.

In a clinical trial, McKee's team found that there were lower rates of quitting among women that used other types of nicotine replacements. Men and women who used varenicline saw 53 percent of smoking abstinence after three months of use.

When the researchers assessed the lower placebo effect in women, they found that varenicline increased the chances of women quitting by 46 percent.

"This is the first demonstration that women compared to men have a preferred therapeutic response for a smoking cessation medication when considering short-term treatment outcomes and equal outcomes at one year. Varenicline appears to be particularly useful for reducing the sex disparity in smoking cessation rates," McKee said. 

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