New Penn Study Provides Step towards Tailoring Treatment to Individual Smokers' Needs

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The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: March 16, 2004

(Tuesday March 16, 2004, Philadelphia, PA) Race, weight, and level of nicotine dependence may help identify smokers' likelihood of quitting smoking with either transdermal nicotine (the nicotine patch) or nicotine nasal spray, a study by researchers from the Tobacco Use Research Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine indicates. This research ? which will appear in the March issue of Annals of Internal Medicine- has important implications for the development of more effective treatment strategies that are tailored to individual smokers' needs.

"Despite the widespread use of nicotine replacement therapy, there is a lack of sufficient empirical data to guide practitioners in selecting a particular form of treatment for individual patients with tobacco dependence. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the comparative efficacy of transdermal nicotine and nicotine nasal spray and to identify pre-treatment clinical characteristics that predict treatment outcome," said lead author Caryn Lerman, Ph.D., Associate Director for Cancer Control and Population Science at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and Professor in Penn's School of Medicine and the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Dr. Lerman led a research team that examined 299 treatment-seeking smokers enrolled in an open-label randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of transdermal nicotine vs. nicotine nasal spray. Participants received seven sessions of behavioral group counseling plus eight weeks of either nicotine nasal spray or transdermal nicotine. Participants recorded their daily use of nicotine replacement therapy and smoking status was bio-chemically verified at the end of treatment and again at a six-month follow-up appointment.

Researchers found that transdermal nicotine is an effective treatment for non-obese, Caucausian, and low nicotine dependent smokers who respond best to a gradual release of nicotine. In contrast, nicotine nasal spray may be more beneficial for obese smokers, highly dependent smokers, and members of minority groups.

"The present study provides an important step towards helping clinicians and patients to individualize the choice of nicotine replacement therapy," said Lerman.

This research will appear in Annals of Internal Medicine in an article titled "Individualizing Nicotine Replacement Therapy for the Treatment of Tobacco Dependence: Results of a Randomized Trial."

This research was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Drug Abuse and was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania/Georgetown University Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center.


Megan Kasimatis (215) 746-6828

David March
(215) 615-3353

Editor's Note: You may also find this news release on-line at The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania was established in 1973 as a center of excellence in cancer research, patient care, education and outreach. Today, the Abramson Cancer Center ranks as one of the nation's best in cancer care, according to US News and World Report, and is one of the top five in National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding. It is one of only 39 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Home to one of the largest clinical and research programs in the world, the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania has 275 active cancer researchers and 250 Penn physicians involved in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.