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Anti-smoking drug available in India

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Time may have finally come to quit smoking without going through the agony of using nicotine patches. The first non-nicotine anti-smoking drug, Zyban, has recently been launched in India, much to the relief of smokers wanting to quit the habit.

Zyban is the brand name for the drug bupropion hydrochloride. This drug acts by producing sensations in the brain that are similar to what a person experiences when he consumes nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance that produces a feeling of elation and satisfaction in a person. Cigarette smoking is one of the ways by which the urge for nicotine can be satisfied. Once an individual becomes addicted to nicotine, it becomes very difficult to give it up because of withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine patches and gums are being used by individuals who want to give up smoking. However, these patches provide the body the nicotine it craves and thus are not effective in preventing the addiction. Zyban is the first non-nicotine drug that helps to quit smoking. The drug is prescribed twice daily for seven to twelve weeks. It is a prescription drug currently priced at Rs. 40 per tablet and can only be taken under a doctor’s guidance.

However, researchers say that Zyban also comes with its risks. It is successful in only one third of all cases. Recent reports in the UK of 18 people having died after consumption of the drug, have raised doubts about its safety. Some users have also reported side effects like fits, chest pains and depression. People with a history of epilepsy and other related illnesses are instructed to avoid the drug.

There are reportedly more than 184 million tobacco users in India of which 40 million smoke cigarettes. Nicotine addiction compels Indians to spend Rs. 18,000 crore on 9000 crore cigarettes every year. This makes India a potentially huge market for the new drug. Ultimately however, it may be a combination of will power and medical care that may be able to bring about a tobacco free society.

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