HEALTH

Government releases updated guidelines for smoking cessation

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. An updated clinical practice guideline released Wednesday by the U.S. Public Health Service has identified new counseling and medication treatments that are effective for helping people quit smoking, including Pfizer’s Chantix, which updated the warning label of its non-nicotine smoking cessation to include the fact that patients may experience “serious neuropsychiatric symptoms,” including suicidal behavior, in January.

Rather than stress any one smoking cessation treatment, however, the guidelines underscore the clinical efficacy in combining treatment with counseling.

In addition, the May 7 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association includes a commentary that urges clinicians to use the updated guideline to accelerate progress in reducing the use of tobacco, the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality released in a statement.

“Decades after the hazards of smoking first gained national attention, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of illness and death in our society,” stated Rear Adm. Steven Galson, Acting Surgeon General. “The good news is that we now have some of the best evidence-based treatments available for tobacco cessation.”

Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update was developed by a 24-member, private-sector panel of leading national tobacco treatment experts that reviewed more than 8,700 research articles published between 1975 and 2007. The review found that there are now seven medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration as smoking cessation treatments that dramatically increase the success of quitting. The medications are: bupropion SR (Wellbutrin, Zyban), nicotine gum, nicotine inhaler, nicotine lozenge, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine patch and varenicline (Chantix).

The 2008 PHS guideline update also found evidence that counseling by itself or especially in conjunction with medication can greatly increase a person’s success in quitting. In particular, quitlines were found to be effective and can reach a large number of people; 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a national quitline, is an access number that connects people to their state-based quitline. It also provides broad access to cessation counseling for diverse populations and is easy for clinicians and patients to use.

“Tobacco dependence is a chronic condition that often requires repeated intervention that can lead to long-term abstinence,” commented Michael Fiore, guideline update panel chair and director of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “I urge all clinicians to offer these effective treatments to smokers, no matter what their past success, and health care systems to make treatment a standard of care,” he said.

American Medical Association President Ronald Davis, supported that call to action for clinicians. “With nearly half a million Americans dying from tobacco-related illness each year, what we do with today’s recommendations can help to dramatically reduce the estimated 5 million smokers who will die over the next decade if we don’t help treat them.”

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GSK applauds updated PHS guidlines for quitting smoking

BY Michael Johnsen

PARSIPPANY, N.J. GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare on Wednesday released a statement commending the updated 2008 U.S. Public Health Service Guideline on Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence.

“Too many smokers lower their chances of quitting by relying on cold turkey approaches to become tobacco-free,” GSK stated. “The Guideline is an important validation of the need for clinicians to recommend the use of effective tobacco dependence counseling and medication [and] reflects considerable progress in tobacco cessation research over the past decade to help identify the most effective strategies at reducing tobacco dependence.”

The updated guideline reflects the distillation of thousands of research articles, and continues to recommend nicotine replacement products as a first-line therapy for quitting, as they “increase significantly rates of long-term smoking abstinence.”

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Study suggests link between vitamin D deficiency and depression

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO According to a study published in the May edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry, depression has been linked to a vitamin D deficiency in older adults.

The Netherlands study examined 1,282 community residents between the ages of 65 years and 95 years.

Levels of vitamin D were 14 percent lower in 169 persons with minor depression, as well as in 26 persons with major depressive order.

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