Patients taking varenicline to stop smoking have ‘significantly’ better results than those taking buproprion, placebo or nicotine patches, the largest ever safety and efficacy study of approved smoking cessation medicines has found.

Patients using the medication during the EAGLES (Evaluating Adverse Events in a Global Smoking Cessation Study) trial showed better abstinence rates at weeks nine -12 and nine – 24 than other methods used in the research.

The results, first published in The Lancet, also demonstrated the use of varenicline or buproprion in patients with or without a history of psychiatric disorder is not associated with an increased risk of serious neuropsychiatric adverse events

Darush Attar-Zadeh, Respiratory Lead Pharmacist at Barnet CCG, said: “Smoking cessation medicines have been shown to be one of the most effective methods to stopping smoking, when combined with support from a healthcare professional.

“This additional evidence from the EAGLES study supports this specifically for varenicline and buproprion.

“As pharmacists, we are often the point of contact for smokers, many of whom often get stuck in a cycle of trying to quit with no NHS support and not succeeding on other therapies, for example nicotine replacement therapy.

“Pharmacists, and support staff, in the community or hospital are in ideal locations to offer evidence based advice to help smokers make an informed decision.”

Dr Roger Henderson, GP with a specialist interest in smoking cessation, said: “Quitting smoking remains the single biggest thing you can do to improve your health, yet 100,000 people die every year in the UK from smoking related illness.

“This largest-ever trial of smoking cessation treatments confirms what clinicians in this area have known for some time - that a combination of pharmacotherapy and behavioural support gives smokers the best chance of quitting.

“The EAGLES trial provides evidence that the neuropsychiatric safety profile for varenicline and bupropion are comparable to placebo or NRT with varenicline being more effective than bupropion, NRT and placebo in both the psychiatric and non-psychiatric cohorts of this study.

“This should continue to give clinicians confidence in the advice they give to smokers to help them quit this most lethal of habits.”