Monday, March 8, 2010

The nicotine patch; new study finds limited value

According to anti-smoking advocate, Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health, “a generally accepted value for long-term one-year abstinence with unaided quitting is somewhere around 3% or 5%.”

In other words, for every 100 smokers who try to quit cold turkey, only 3 to 5 will go without a cigarette for a year or more. Of course, that doesn't mean they won't relapse and go back to smoking at some point beyond the year. So, while I don't subscribe to the theory that nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin, there's no disputing that smoking is a habit that's hard for many people to shake.

Presumably, that's why the anti-smoker crowd, including doctors, are so keen on pushing NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy). The nicotine patch, nicotine gum, nicotine lozenges, etc, ostensibly offer a greater chance of success in smoking cessation than going cold turkey. Or, at least, that's what they'd have you believe.

Every anti-smoker group in Canada (and around the world, it seems) touts the benefit of NRT for smoking cessation. The Non-Smokers Rights Association, Physicians for a Smokefree Canada, The Canadian Lung Association, they all push NRT products as if they were not only the best way to quit smoking, but the only way.

Even government agencies like Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health Propaganda are acting like pitchmen for the pharmaceutical industry. But, is it true? Does NRT offer a better chance of success to those who want to quit? Or, are the high priests of the anti-smoker cult foisting off yet another lie on an unsuspecting public?

In a recent post on his blog, Tobacco Analysis, Dr. Siegel claims: “New study shows that even extended Nicotine Replacement Therapy is extremely ineffective; unaided quitting rates are far better.” In fact, his analysis of the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, concludes that: “even with continuous use of the nicotine patch for six months, very few smokers were able to stay off cigarettes long-term.”

So, just how many of the 568 subjects in the study of nicotine patch therapy were able to achieve continuous one-year abstinence? Only five; a dismal 0.8%. Less than one in a hundred were able to go without a cigarette for a full year using the patch.

The success rate of NRT, or lack of it, has been a matter of debate for many years. That's why the new ads for the patch recommend that it be used in combination with nicotine gum, or some other NRT product, to increase the chances of success.

And, in the past, the patch has usually been recommended for an eight week course of therapy. But, since the success rate has been so disappointing, the drug companies are looking to extend that period to six months. Of course, they'd need a “scientific” study to demonstrate that prolonged drug therapy would actually deliver on their promise of greater efficacy.

And, not surprisingly, their latest study does just that. “Transdermal nicotine for 24 weeks increased biochemically confirmed point-prevalence abstinence and continuous abstinence at week 24, reduced the risk for smoking lapses, and increased the likelihood of recovery to abstinence after a lapse compared with 8 weeks of transdermal nicotine therapy.” Huh?

What that means, after wading through the bullshit and bafflegab, is that 24 weeks of NRT was more effective than eight weeks in keeping subjects smoke free over 24 weeks. Ignored was the fact that less than one per cent of the study subjects were able to remain smoke free for a year or more and that NRT is far less effective than quitting cold turkey.

As a matter of fact, Dr. Siegel notes in his analysis that the research shows that NRT is “terribly ineffective” in achieving smoking cessation ”and is probably a waste of time and money on a population basis.”

So, not only is the patch less effective in bringing about smoking cessation than quitting on your own, it can be a damn sight more expensive.

Consider this. A package of 14 Nicoderm patches sells for roughly $50. Over 24 weeks, that comes out to about $600 per quit attempt. And, there are 5 million smokers in Canada. If all the smokers in Canada developed a sudden urge to quit, using the patch, the total cost would be in the neighbourhood of 3 billion dollars. But, only 40 thousand of those smokers would manage to give up the habit for a year or more. The remaining 4.96 million become repeat customers for the patch and other NRT products. Of course, you won't see those statistics in drug company ads.

But, if the patch and other NRT products are so inefficient in inducing smoking cessation, why is the anti-smoker crowd, including government agencies, so intent on foisting these relatively useless products off on the public? Do they want smokers to quit? Or simply to switch their nicotine habituation from cigarettes to the patch, gum and lozenges?

There's no denying that using the patch over an extended period of time will enhance the already substantial profits of the drug companies from the sales of NRT. And, the pharmaceutical industry provides a great deal of funding for the anti-smoker cult, including doctors and researchers.

And, Siegel also points out on his blog that: “The senior author of the study has a severe financial conflict of interest as she has served as a consultant to GlaxoSmithKline, one company that manufactures the nicotine patch. She has also served as a consultant or has received research funding from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Novartis.”

Maybe the anti-smoker crowd has grown dependent on pharmaceutical funding. Just like the lead author of this latest propaganda effort masquerading as science.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Simply put; nicotine replacement therapy is one of the biggest con-tricks known to man.

How can you possibly cure a drug addict by selling him the very drug he is addicted to? Even the term Nicotine Replacement Therapy is misleading, you are not replacing nicotine you are continuing to put nicotine in to your body and thus the addiction is neither confronted or cured.

The pharma companies claim that using NRT smokers have a four percent greater chance of success -four percent of what for christs sake?

Nicotine addiction is easily cured, not by patches, gum or any other ruse, it is simply a case of understanding the trap you have fallen in to. Smokers smoke to relieve the withdrawal pangs inbetween cigarettes, that is the only reason they smoke, once you have removed the brain washing and realise that smoking was never about enjoyment and the withdrawal process is not painful or intense the sooner you will give up permanently. Allen Carrs Easy Way method is the only effective and proven method to help you to stop smoking. Stop putting money in to the filthy pharma companies hands and realise they are nothing more than legalised drug pushers - selling nicotine to nicotine drug addicts it's as simple as that.