• Nicotine patch;
  • randomized controlled trial;
  • rimonabant;
  • smoking cessation


Aims  Because smoking cessation rates might be improved by combining drugs and by reducing post-cessation weight gain, we tested the smoking cessation efficacy, safety and effect on body weight of adding the nicotine patch to rimonabant, a cannabanoid type-1 receptor antagonist that reduces body weight.

Design  Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial.

Setting  Fifteen US research centers.

Participants  A total of 755 smokers (≥15 cigarettes/day).

Intervention  Rimonabant (20 mg daily) was given open-label for 9 weeks. The 735 participants completing week 1 were randomized at day 8 (target quit day) to add a nicotine patch (n = 369) or placebo patch (n = 366) for 10 weeks (21 mg daily for 8 weeks plus a 2-week taper). Participants received weekly smoking counseling and were followed for 24 weeks.

Measurements  Biochemically validated 4-week continuous abstinence at end-of-treatment (weeks 6–9; primary end-point); 7-day point prevalence abstinence at weeks 9 and 24; sustained abstinence (weeks 6–24); change in body weight; and adverse events.

Findings  Rimonabant plus nicotine patch was superior to rimonabant plus placebo in validated continuous abstinence at weeks 6–9 (39.0% versus 21.3%; odds ratio 2.36, 95% confidence interval: 1.71–2.37; P < 0.01) and in all other efficacy measures. Mean end-of-treatment weight gain among quitters did not differ between groups (0.04 kg for combination versus 0.49 kg for rimonabant only, P = 0.15) and was similar in weight-concerned smokers. Serious adverse event rates did not differ between groups. Depression- and anxiety-related adverse events occurred in 32 (4.2%) and 44 (5.8%) subjects, respectively; eight (1.1%) and nine (1.2%) subjects stopped the drug due to depression and anxiety, respectively.

Conclusions  Adding a nicotine patch to rimonabant was well tolerated and increased smoking cessation rates over rimonabant alone. There was little post-cessation weight gain in either group, even among weight-concerned smokers, during drug treatment.