The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has issued guidance and draft approval on the use of Champix, a twice-daily pill which contains the active ingredient varenicline and works by providing relief from cravings and the withdrawal symptoms experienced by smokers. It also reduces the satisfaction a smoker will get from further cigarettes if they have a relapse. Trials have shown the drug was effective after a 12-week course, with 44% of smokers managing to stop.The cost of a 56-day pack of tablets is £54.60. The recommended 12-week course of treatment costs about £163.80.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) said the NHS should pay for twice daily doses of varenicline, sold as Champix, for those who want to quit. The draft guidelines follow controversy over Nice’s decision to reject the drugs Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The institute ruled that at £2.50 per day per patient they were not cost-effective. Champix costs £1.95 per patient per day.
Although there is a great deal of divided public opinion as to whether smoking cessation aids and drug costs should be covered by the NHS or individuals, Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team believe the NICE provisional ruling should be welcomed, because Champix is the first new anti-smoking drug to be launched in 10 years – and is hailed as the most effective non-nicotine treatment yet to help smokers quit. Our view is that the £163.80 cost to the NHS for each 12-week course would be more than recouped from the NHS’s £1.5 billion annual bill for treating diseases caused by smoking! Do you agree?
We are now just weeks away before England’s smoking ban comes into force on July 1, and like many smokers, Judy Viitanen is struggling to quit. Willpower alone doesn’t work, so she is using nicotine patches (which she pays for herself) – and is getting a lot of good advice and support from her local pharmacist.