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Is Zyban safe I've tried everything thing else and I'm desperate to stop smoking.

01:00 Mon 11th Mar 2002 |

asks ursula:
Zyban (Bupropion) is a non-nicotine treatment which reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms by acting on the part of the brain that deals with nicotine addiction, but is it not fully understood how it does this. Since its introduction in 2000, Zyban has been linked to severe side effects and death.

Q. How many deaths
About 500,000 people have taken Zyban - the numbers have tripled in the last year. By January 10 this year, 57 had died following suspected adverse reactions, compared to 18 at the same time last year. However, the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) said the link between the drug and the deaths were unproven and that, in the majority of cases, an underlying condition may have caused the death.

Q. What other side effects have been reported
The MCA has received reports of 7,000 adverse reactions, including insomnia, rashes, headaches, nausea, vomiting and depression. And 168 reports involved seizures which were suspected as being associated with Zyban.

Q. Isn't that quite a lot
Because Zyban is a new drug, GPs and other health officials use a 'yellow card' system to notify the MCA of any reported side effect, so it will get more attention than many other drugs. A spokesman for the MCA said that the safety of all new drugs - including Zyban - is kept under close review. He also added that, compared with other medicines, Zyban has a low proportion of reports with fatal outcomes - less than 1%.

Q. Are there any ongoing investigations into Zyban
Yes, in February, a six-month investigation in to Zyban was launched by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency. It will determine whether the risks outweigh the benefits.

Q. How can you make sure you're taking it safely
Zyban has to be prescribed and is not suitable for everyone. It shouldn't be taken by anyone who has ever suffered from seizures or eating disorders. Ask your GP for advice.

Q. Where can I find out more about stopping smoking
Contact Quit or ASH for more help.

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