Objectives To compare the effect of oral selegiline plus nicotine patch with placebo plus nicotine patch on smoking cessation rates.
Design Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial.
Setting Three community-based clinics.
Participants One hundred and nine male and female smokers aged 18–55 years, who smoked at least 15 cigarettes/day.
Interventions Oral selegiline, 2.5 mg, or placebo twice/day initiated 1 week before the quit day, followed by 5 mg oral selegiline or placebo twice daily for 26 weeks, plus active nicotine skin patch to all participants for the first 8 weeks only. Measures of continuous abstinence rates up to 52 weeks, withdrawal symptoms, blood pressure and adverse events incidence.
Findings Twenty-five per cent (14 of 56) were continuously abstinent for 52 weeks in the selegiline plus nicotine group compared with 11% (6 of 53) in the placebo plus nicotine group (P = 0.08). Craving for cigarettes was lower in the selegiline plus nicotine group 4 weeks after quit day (P = 0.02).
Conclusions Adding selegiline to nicotine patch was associated with a doubling of the 52-week continuous abstinence rate, but this difference was not statistically significant. Selegiline significantly reduced craving for cigarettes and appeared to mitigate the need for nicotine replacement therapy. The results suggest that selegiline is a promising drug for future smoking cessation research.