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Stop-smoking drug approved on NHS

The most effective treatment yet to help smokers finally kick the habit has been approved for use on the NHS.

Champix has been cleared after trials found almost half of those who take it manage to give up.

The draft ruling comes as England prepares to go smoke-free from 1 July, when there will be a ban on smoking in virtually all enclosed work and public places.

The prescription-only, twice-daily pill has received approval from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Champix tablets contain the active ingredient varenicline, a medicine used to help people who are addicted to nicotine give up smoking.

It works by providing relief from cravings and the withdrawal symptoms experienced by smokers.

It also reduces the satisfaction a smoker will get from further cigarettes if they relapse and start puffing away again.

Trials show the drug is effective after a 12-week course, with 44% of smokers managing to stop.

This compares with 18% of those given a placebo, and 30% of those taking another antismoking drug, Zyban, which is also available on the NHS.

A spokeswoman for Nice said: "Having looked at all the evidence, our independent committee has concluded that varenicline appears to be a good way to help people who want to quit smoking."

The NICE guidance is subject to appeal, with final approval tabled for July.


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