Introduction: Current smoking cessation guidelines recommend setting a quit date prior to starting pharmacotherapy. However, providing flexibility in the date of quitting may be more acceptable to some smokers. The objective of this study was to compare varenicline 1 mg twice daily (b.i.d.) with placebo in subjects using a flexible quit date paradigm after starting medication.
Methods: In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled international study, smokers of ≥10 cigarettes/day, aged 18-75 years, and who were motivated to quit were randomized (3:1) to receive varenicline 1 mg b.i.d. or placebo for 12 weeks. Subjects were followed up through Week 24. Subjects were instructed to quit between Days 8 and 35 after starting medication. The primary endpoint was carbon monoxide-confirmed continuous abstinence during Weeks 9-12, and a key secondary endpoint was continuous abstinence during Weeks 9-24.
Results: Overall, 493 subjects were randomized to varenicline and 166 to placebo. Continuous abstinence was higher for varenicline than for placebo subjects at the end of treatment (Weeks 9-12: 53.1% vs. 19.3%; odds ratio [OR] 5.9; 95% CI, 3.7-9.4; p < .0001) and through 24 weeks follow-up (Weeks 9-24: 34.7% vs. 12.7%; OR 4.4; 95% CI, 2.6-7.5; p < .0001). Serious adverse events occurred in 1.2% varenicline (none were psychiatric) and 0.6% placebo subjects. Fewer varenicline than placebo subjects reported depression-related adverse events (2.3% vs. 6.7%, respectively).
Conclusions: Varenicline 1 mg b.i.d. using a flexible quit date paradigm had similar efficacy and safety compared with previous fixed quit date studies.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00691483.