A new study published in “Addiction” found that cytisine, a generic and inexpensive smoking cessation active ingredient used in Eastern Europe since the 1960s, more than doubles the chances of successfully quitting smoking by compared to placebo and may be more effective than replacement therapy nicotine (gum, pills, patches, etc.). Its safety profile is benign, with no evidence of serious side effects.

The only problem highlighted by the study is that cytisine is not licensed or marketed in most countries outside of Central and Eastern Europe, and is therefore not available in most countries in the world, including in many low- and middle-income countries. a big difference to global health.

Cytisine is a compound of plant origin that relieves withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking. It was first synthesized in Bulgaria in 1964 under the name Tabex®, then spread to other countries in Eastern Europe and Asia, where it is still marketed. In 2017, Polish pharmaceutical company Aflofarm began selling it under the prescription drug name Desmoxan®, and Canada approved it as an over-the-counter natural health product, Cravv®.

In Spain there are currently two drugs to stop smoking, funded by the Ministry of Health, containing this active ingredient.

The study authors say that because cytisine is an inexpensive drug, it could be part of a plan to increase accessibility to drug treatment for smokers, which tends to be limited in low- and middle-income countries. .

“Our study strengthens the evidence that cytisine is an effective and cost-effective aid for smoking cessation. This could be very useful in reducing smoking in low- and middle-income countries where cost-effective smoking cessation medications are urgently needed. Worldwide, smoking is considered the leading cause of preventable death. Cytisine has the potential to be one of the big answers to this problem,” says lead author Dr. Omar De Santi.

This study pooled the results of eight randomized controlled trials comparing cytisine to a placebo, involving nearly 6,000 patients. The combined results showed that cytisine doubled the chances of successfully quitting smoking compared to placebo.

The study also looked at two randomized controlled trials comparing cytisine to nicotine replacement therapy, with modest results favoring cytisine, and three trials comparing cytisine to varenicline, with no clear benefit for cytisine.