Efficacy of pharmacotherapies for short-term smoking abstinance: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Edward J. Mills, Ping Wu, Dean Spurden, Jon O. Ebbert, Kumanan Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: Smoking cessation has important immediate health benefits. The comparative short-term effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions is not well known. We aimed to determine the relative effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion and varenicline at 4 weeks post-target quit date. Methods: We searched 10 electronic medical databases (inception to October 2008). We selected randomized clinical trials [RCTs] evaluating interventions for our primary outcome of abstinence from smoking at at-least 4 weeks post-target quit date, with biochemical confirmation. We conducted random-effects odds ratio (OR) meta-analysis and meta-regression. We compared treatment effects across interventions using head-to-head trials and calculated indirect comparisons. Results: We combined a total of 101 trials evaluating delivery of NRT versus inert controls at approximately 4 weeks post-target quit date (total n = 31,321). The pooled overall OR is OR 2.05 (95% Confidence Interval [CI], 1.89-2.23, P =< 0.0001). We pooled data from 31 bupropion trials contributing a total n of 11,118 participants and found a pooled OR of 2.25 (95% CI, 1.94-2.62, P =< 0.0001). We evaluated 9 varenicline trials compared to placebo. Our pooled estimate for cessation at 4 weeks post-target quit date found a pooled OR of 3.16 (95% CI, 2.55-3.91, P =< 0.0001). Two trials evaluated head to head comparisons of varenicline and bupropion and found a pooled estimate of OR 1.86 (95% CI, 1.49-2.33, P =< 0.0001 at 4 weeks post-target quit date. Indirect comparisons were: NRT and bupropion, OR, 1.09, 95% CI, 0.93-1.31, P = 0.28; varenicline and NRT, OR 1.56, 95% CI, 1.23-1.96, P = 0.0002; and, varenicline and bupropion, OR 1.40, 95% CI, 1.08-1.85, P = 0.01. Conclusion: Pharmacotherapeutic interventions are effective for increasing smoking abstinence rates in the short-term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1477
Pages (from-to)25
Number of pages1
JournalHarm Reduction Journal
StatePublished - Sep 18 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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