Pharma Companies Developing Antismoking Drugs

Susan Farley
Published Online: Sunday, May 1, 2005

Several large pharmaceutical companies are actively developing and testing drugs to help smokers give up their nicotine dependence, with the hopes of finding the first cure-all for smoking.

?Pfizer Inc has designed a drug, varenicline, which binds to the same site in the brain as nicotine. Researchers hope that this drug will overpower any nicotine cravings once a person has decided to give up smoking. Varenicline is currently in phase 3 testing.

?Sanofi-Synth?labo is seeking FDA approval for its drug rimonabant (Acomplia), which targets the area of the brain that prompts smokers to keep smoking. Theoretically, if the chemical reward from smoking is blocked, then the smoker will no longer find the activity enjoyable or addictive.

?Nabi Biopharmaceuticals has NicVax, a drug it plans to market as a nicotine vaccine. NicVax causes antibodies to bind to nicotine molecules and prevents them from reacting with the smoker's brain receptors. The drug could begin phase 3 trials later this year.

Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.

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