Mecamylamine does not precipitate withdrawal in cigarette smokers

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1996 Oct;127(4):328-36. doi: 10.1007/s002130050094.


Mecamylamine is an antihypertensive that acts via nicotinic antagonism and has been suggested as an aid in smoking cessation. Nicotine dependent patients may not accept mecamylamine if it precipitates withdrawal, as it does in nicotine dependent rats. This study examined mecamylamine's effects using procedures designed to measure precipitated withdrawal symptoms in humans. Ten cigarette smokers (mean of 37.5 cigarettes/day) and ten non tobacco-using subjects participated in three 6-h sessions. After a 2-h baseline period in which smokers smoked one cigarette every 30 min, oral mecamylamine (0, 10, or 20 mg randomly ordered across sessions) was administered (double-blind). No smoking was allowed for the remainder of the session. Mecamylamine reduced blood pressure and increased heart rate relative to placebo in both the smokers and the non-tobacco users. No reliable direct subjective effects of mecamylamine were observed. Smokers' subjective reports of cigarette craving and tobacco withdrawal increased, and DSST performance was disrupted over the last 4 h of each session. Effects were independent of dose (placebo versus active). These results suggest that up to 20 mg mecamylamine will not precipitate nicotine withdrawal and that this medication would be acceptable for use in smoking cessation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mecamylamine / adverse effects
  • Mecamylamine / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotinic Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Nicotinic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / drug therapy*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology*


  • Nicotinic Antagonists
  • Mecamylamine
  • Carbon Monoxide