Smokers could soon have NHS access to a drug which manufacturers claim can help them quit the habit.
Draft approval for the use of Varenicline (Champix)
has been granted by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which reviews new drugs for cost-effectiveness.
According to the institute, which is due to issue final guidance in July, the drug "appears to be a good way to help people who want to quit smoking".
In a statement, Nice said: "Varenicline should normally be provided in conjunction with counselling and support, but if such support is not available, this should not stop smokers receiving treatment with varenicline."
According to manufacturers Pfizer, the drug works by reducing the craving for smoking, as well as the withdrawal symptoms experienced by people trying to give up.
The expected cost of implementing the drug in England and Wales is £2 million in 2007 - a mere fraction of the estimated £1.5 billion spent annually on treating patients with smoking-related illnesses. © Adfero Ltd
Treatment news : 01/06/2007