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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA researchers test anti-smoking medicine on teens

    Nikki Fury, right, inflates a diseased pig lung at the Great American Smokeout booth hosted by the Student Health Advisory Committee on the Mall yesterday afternoon, while committee member Connie Leung looks on.
    Nikki Fury, right, inflates a diseased pig lung at the Great American Smokeout booth hosted by the Student Health Advisory Committee on the Mall yesterday afternoon, while committee member Connie Leung looks on.

    Scientists at the UA recently released an adolescent smoking cessation study indicating that the antidepressant bupropion, marketed as Zyban and Wellbutrin, can help teenagers quit smoking, at least temporarily.

    “”(Bupropion) is key in addictions,”” said Myra Muramoto, M.D., principal investigator of the study.

    As an aid to quitting smoking, “”it’s known to work in adults,”” she said.

    It is also the first FDA-approved non-nicotine based medicine to help people quit smoking.

    The trial consisted of 312 teens between the ages 14 and 17, who were recruited in the community from March 1, 1999 to March 1, 2002, Muramoto said.

    All of them smoked more than six cigarettes every day and had tried to quit at least twice.

    The teens were split into three groups with two of the groups receiving different doses of the drug: 150 milligrams and 300 milligrams, she said.

    The third received a placebo sugar pill.

    The trial was double-blind, so neither researchers nor subjects knew what the subjects were receiving until after the trial, Muramoto said.

    “”Double-blind is the gold standard for testing medication,”” she added.

    What made this trial unique was that the teens were from a wide variety of backgrounds, including several who were not enrolled in school.

    Another facet of the trial was individual counseling.

    Subjects came to the clinic once a week for seven weeks for 10-to-20-minute meetings designed to help them quit smoking, according to the study.

    After the six weeks of the trial, 5.6 percent of those taking the placebo, 10.7 percent of those taking 150 milligrams and 14.5 percent of those taking 300 milligrams of bupropion no longer smoked, the study said.

    After 26 weeks, there was a follow-up to see how well it had stuck, she said.

    10.3 percent of the teens that took the placebo, 3.1 percent of teens that took 150 milligrams and 13.9 percent of teens that took 300 milligrams were no longer smoking, the study said.

    To check whether the subjects were smoking, the amount of cotinine in their urine was checked. Smokers have a higher level of cotinine in them as a byproduct of the tobacco, according to the study.

    The fact that the study’s subjects were minors complicated the situation somewhat.

    “”Youths are considered a vulnerable population,”” said Kimberly Elliott, study coordinator, who ran the “”day-to-day, in-and-out routine,”” supervising the staff and arranging visits for participants in the trial.

    Because the study involved teens, both parents and teens had to agree to the study – what Elliott called “”consent and assent.””

    By consenting, the parents agreed to support the teens in their attempt to quit smoking. Some parents, however, “”didn’t make it their priority,”” Elliott said. “”They weren’t following through on their own actions.””

    “”We plan to continue this line of research,”” Muramoto said.

    In particular, they will look at longer trials and proper dosage levels for teens.

    The treatment plan for adults lasts 12 weeks, with considerably higher success rates and also includes counseling, Elliott said. “”I don’t think you can underestimate counseling at all.””

    “”The goal is to treat tobacco dependence in adolescents,”” Muramoto said.

    The study appears in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, an American Medical Association journal.

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