The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given approval for the sale of the first smoking cessation drug in almost ten years.
The drug Chantix is produced by drug company Pfizer.
The medication received fast track treatment following successful trials which showed great potential and significant therapeutic advantages over existing therapies.
In six clinical trials, involving 3659 smokers, all of whom had been smoking more than 20 a day for about 25 years, it was found that people had four times better success rates in quitting smoking when compared with a placebo, and twice better odds when compared to another drug Zyban following 12 weeks of treatment.
Chantix (varenicline tartrate) a new active ingredient, is a type of molecule which works on specific parts of the brain.
It helps people give up smoking because it provides some of the satisfaction that nicotine gives, and therefore softens withdrawal symptoms.
It also blocks the nicotine from entering relevant parts of the brain, and removes the reward a smoker experiences when they smoke.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States.
The CDC says nicotine addiction is a chronic relapsing medical condition and though as many as 70 percent of smokers wish to quit, the powerful addiction to nicotine is difficult to overcome with willpower alone.
The average smoker has usually tried to quit six to nine times.
Smoking contributes or causes a number of cancers and is also the cause of heart and lung diseases.
The CDC says of the 44.5 million adult smokers in the USA, 8.6 million have a serious illness caused by smoking.
In the trials, Chantix was generally well tolerated; side effects included nausea, headache, vomiting, flatulence, insomnia, abnormal dreams and dysgeusia (things taste different).