This article has been updated since its original release. [Details]

Varenicline can be prescribed for up to 24 weeks of continuous therapy for smoking cessation, under a new authority listing that comes into effect on 1 February 2011. The new listing means that people who respond to the first 12 weeks of varenicline — and who are enrolled in a support and counselling program — can receive a further 12 weeks treatment as an aid to remaining abstinent.

The PBAC accepted that an additional 12 weeks treatment with varenicline was more effective than placebo in maintaining abstinence. While the absolute difference in abstinence rates was small (about 7% higher in the extended varenicline group at 1 year), the PBAC considered this gain worth the cost when translated into more Australians successfully quitting smoking.1

From 1 February 2011 a course of treatment with varenicline will require two or three authority prescriptions:

An updated NPS RADAR review on varenicline with full details of the PBS listing and latest safety changes will be available on the NPS website from late February 2011.

Revision history

Updated 3 February 2011 to clarify number of prescriptions required for a course of treatment.