Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Treating addiction

The pharmaceutical industry is aching for new drugs. They are addicted to the blockbuster drug, a drug selling in the billions, and they need one ever so often because otherwise patent life expires and their buzz is gone. And that's when the generics come in and rough them up. The last success of the traditional small molecule "lifestyle" drug was viagra and there's been a bit of a dry spell since. In 1997, Pfizer realized that its antidepressant wellburtin (zyban) was effective at smoking cessation and got it approved. It proved to be a huge cash cow. Now 10 years have gone by, the patent is about to expire and there is a huge opportunity to grab a gigantic market: addiction. It turns out it doesn't matter what the addiction is, the mechanism is the same, and Pfizer's new drug varenicline, a nicotine partial receptor agonist can do the job:

"Varenicline increased the odds of successful long-term smoking cessation approximately threefold compared with pharmacologically unassisted quit attempts.In trials reported so far, more participants quit successfully with varenicline than with bupropion. The effectiveness of varenicline as an aid to relapse prevention has not been clearly established. The main adverse effect of varenciline is nausea, but this is mostly at mild to moderate levels and tends to reduce with habituation.There is a need for independent trials of varenicline versus placebo, to test the early findings. There is also a need for direct comparisons with nicotine replacement therapy, and for further trials with bupropion, to establish the relative efficacy of the treatments."

Imagine one day it could be sold for internet, gambling, porn, the 17% canadians who use pot, videogame, train-surfing, gummy bear, bayblab addictions.... I can't wait to check the results in PNAS.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to that article, Canadians smoke more pot than Jamaicans. Huh??
Somehow I think those stats are strange.

Paul Zwiebel said...

Chantix is a name to reckon with in the quit smoking drug category in a rather short period of time. After Zyban was introduced some ten years ago as an anti smoking drug, no drugs have been approved so far, till Chantix hit the headlines. Chantix has been introduced at a perfectly right time, when the figures and statistics of nicotine (smoking) related deaths as per the WHO reports have alarmed the medical world. http://www.chantixhome.com/