Forget patches or placebos, new research shows a pill used to quit smoking in Europe for years is not only more effective than other cessation routes, but is a cheap, more cost efficient alternative as well.
The plant-based pill called Tabex, which originated in Eastern Europe during the Soviet Union era, is a cheap remedy for quitting smoking cigarettes, for as little as $6.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that Tabex was three times more effective to help a smoker quit than a dummy placebo pill.
The benefits of Tabex are comparable with those of other smoking-cessation treatments, but at a fraction of the cost, research leader Robert West of University College said. [Tabex] is so cheap that even in developing countries, if you can afford to smoke, you can afford to stop, he told CBS.
According to the World Health Organization, the majority of the 6 million people annually who die from tobacco use are from low or middle income countries. West said using Tabex could become a practical option even for the poorest smokers, which could dramatically reduce the number of deaths each year.
The study consisted of 740 smokers in Poland over a period of 25 days. 8.4 percent of patients who took Tabex quit smoking for at leats one year compared to the 2.4 percent of patients who took a placebo.
Tabex, according to the study, is made of cytisine, which is found in the seeds from flowers of laburnum trees. The plant-based pill created in Bulgaria reportedly mimics the effects of nicotine when taken for three to four weeks, though some patients experienced gastrointestinal upset side effects.
While it can cost about $63 on Drugstore.com, Business Week reported it can cost as little as $6 in Russia, sold over-the-counter.
According to West, Tabex is not available in parts of Western Europe due to a delay from the regulatory system.
It's been available in central and eastern Europe for more than 40 years, we have safety data on millions of people, and we know it's effective, but it's not licensed in Britain, he told The Press Association.
Delware's Extab Corporation is conducting clinical trials in pursuit to be granted regulatory approval for Tabex in the U.S., according to Business Week.