Drug Safety

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 381–403 | Cite as

Benefits and Risks of Pharmacological Smoking Cessation Therapies in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

  • Edwin J. Wagen
  • Maurice P.A. Zeegers
  • Constant P. van Schayck
  • Emiel F.M. Wouters
Review Article


Smoking cessation is the most effective way to reduce the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or to reduce its progression. However, little is known about the efficacy and safety of different pharmacological smoking cessation therapies used for the treatment of patients with COPD who smoke. The aim of this review was to evaluate the benefits and risks of pharmacological smoking cessation therapies in COPD. We conducted an extensive computer-aided literature search which resulted in the identification of four papers that met the inclusion criteria and contributed to this review.

In two studies the efficacy of nicotine polacrilex (nicotine gum) was assessed. In one study, which did not have a control group, the efficacy of nicotine nasal spray was evaluated. The fourth study, a placebo-controlled trial, evaluated the efficacy of bupropion sustained release. The results of these studies indicated that nicotine gum, nicotine nasal spray and bupropion have a good safety profile and seem to increase abstinence rates in smokers with COPD. The incidence and nature of specific adverse effects occurring in patients with COPD seem to be comparable with the adverse effects reported by healthy smokers. However, the efficacy seems to depend on the follow-up period used to define success (i.e. abstinence rates decline with longer follow-up), as well as the intensity and duration of the concomitant psychosocial intervention.

This review indicates that for a continuation of the effect of pharmacological smoking cessation therapies, the combination of pharmacotherapy (to reduce craving and withdrawal) and a relapse-prevention programme, in which attention is focused on the behavioural aspects of smoking and smoking cessation, seems to increase abstinence, especially when the psychosocial intervention is prolonged for a longer period. Also, the characteristics of the smokers who are motivated to quit must be taken into account in order to increase the number of successful attempts to quit smoking and prevent relapses. We therefore recommend using a holistic approach in which the possible coexistence of multiple problems (which are known to affect the success of smoking cessation strategies) is integrated.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Nicotine Smoking Cessation Bupropion Nicotine Replacement Therapy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The work presented in this paper was supported by the Dutch Asthma Foundation (NAF grant no. and the Health Research and Development Council (ZorgOnderzoek Nederland grant no. 2200.0111), The Netherlands. The authors have no (potential) conflict of interest, which is or might be relevant to the contents of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edwin J. Wagen
    • 1
  • Maurice P.A. Zeegers
    • 2
  • Constant P. van Schayck
    • 1
  • Emiel F.M. Wouters
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of General Practice, Research Institute for Extramural and Transmural Health Care (ExTra)Maastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Respiratory MedicineUniversity Hospital MaastrichtMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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