Ex-Smokers Jittery About GlaxoSmithKline's Nicorette Lozenge Shortage

Published: Feb 11, 2015

Ex-Smokers Jittery About GlaxoSmithKline's Nicorette Lozenge Shortage
February 11, 2015
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Last year, GlaxoSmithKline decided to stop making its Nicorette lozenges due to quality control issues. When the move was made, the biopharmaceutical company did not announce plans for future lozenge production, according to the Washington Post. For a while, it appeared that the product may be gone, and smokers who were using the lozenges began stocking up on the remaining inventory.

In February 2014, Washington Post told regulators that it would be voluntarily recalling its lozenges due to quality control issues. It claimed that the lozenge was “overly thick” and “overly soft,” although there were no safety issues cited in the recall. For this reason, retailers continued to sell their remaining supply. In turn, smokers who had been relying on the lozenges have been stocking up on the product.

Nicotine lozenges account for approximately one-third of anti-smoking product sales in the U.S. These therapies are also available in the form of patches and gum, and GlaxoSmithKline dominates the market for both gum and lozenges.

Now, GlaxoSmithKline says that mini-lozenges are set to return to store shelves in April, and full-size lozenges will be back later this year.

Finding Ways to Kick the Habit
In December 2014, a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed how a plant extract can be more effective than lozenges, gums and patches on the market.

Researchers looked at cytisine, a partial agonist that binds the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor for smoking cessation, and compared it to nicotine replacement products on the market. A total of 1,310 adult daily smokers were examined in the study. Half of them were assigned cytisine, while the other half was given nicotine replacement therapy.

The researchers determined that cytisine almost doubled the chances of quitting at six months, and the partial agonist is at least as effective as nicotine replacement therapy. However, cytisine came with its fair share of side effects including nausea, vomiting and sleep disorders.

“When combined with brief behavioral support, cytisine was found to be superior to nicotine-replacement therapy in helping smokers quit smoking, but it was associated with a higher frequency of self-reported adverse events,” wrote the authors of the report.


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