Utilization of the smoking cessation medicine varenicline: an intensive post-marketing study in New Zealand

Authors

  • Mira Harrison-Woolrych,

    Corresponding author
    1. Director, Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
    • Director, Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.
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  • Janelle Ashton

    1. IT Systems Manager, Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
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  • Whilst some of the data in this paper have been submitted to Medsafe (NZ Ministry of Health) and the NZ Medicines Adverse Reactions Committee (MARC) for confidential review, this report has not been published elsewhere nor submitted anywhere else for consideration of publication.

  • Authors declare no conflict of interest.

Abstract

Purpose

To examine the utilization of varenicline during the first year of marketing in New Zealand (NZ) and to examine how this compares with the dosing instructions recommended in the Champix® product information.

Methods

Dispensing records for all NZ patients prescribed varenicline were collected by the Intensive Medicines Monitoring Programme (IMMP) during the first year this medicine was available in this country. Analyses of these data included patient characteristics and patterns of usage—in particular the duration of treatment dispensed as the first course. An assessment of the effectiveness of varenicline in post-marketing use was also performed on a sub-group of the cohort for whom follow-up information was available.

Results

Of 3415 patients in the first year IMMP cohort, only 125 patients (4%) were dispensed the recommended 12 weeks varenicline treatment. 1299 (38%) were dispensed 14 days treatment (most often as a Starter Pack), 766 (22%) were dispensed 6 weeks, 411 (12%) were dispensed 4 weeks and 332 (8%) patients were dispensed more than 12 weeks treatment as a continuous course. The most common reasons for stopping varenicline prematurely were adverse reactions and cost of treatment. In a subgroup of 1299 patients, varenicline was reported to have been effective for 359 (28%) patients.

Conclusions

In ‘real-life’ post-marketing use, most patients did not receive 12 weeks varenicline treatment as recommended in the Champix product information. This observation may have implications for the effectiveness of this smoking cessation medicine. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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