It pointed out right away that the cost of cytisine was far less than all others. The authors listed 25 days of cytisine cost $20 to $30, nicotine replacement therapy for 8 to 10 weeks cost $112 to $685 and varenicline cost $474 to $501 for 12 weeks.
This was the first study to compare the two drugs directly. The subjects were culled from New Zealand’s national smoking quit line. They collected 1,310 people, divided them between the drugs, and used a phone self-reporting system for results and side effects. Any time this format is used, criticisms abound. But the results were still valuable.
The reported percentages of abstinence for cytisine vs. varenicline were 60 percent vs. 46 percent at one week, 40 percent vs. 31 percent at one month, 31 percent vs. 22 percent at two months, and 22 percent vs. 15 percent at six months.
Past studies of cytisine are few. One in 2011 from Poland and England compared it to placebo. At 12 months, 8.4 percent of the cytisine group were abstinent vs. 2.4 percent in the placebo crowd. Here, both groups took pills for 25 days without knowing which was which, so-called double blinded.
Adverse reactions were mostly nausea, vomiting and sleep disorders for both drugs. In other reports, varenicline has engendered occasional suicidal thoughts and behaviors, while cytisine has not. Interestingly, plants that contain cytisine, including common broom and mescalbean, have been used as recreational drugs. However, too much cytisine can cause convulsions, heart pain, headache, respiratory failure and death. Oops. No reference was made about the derivation of the dosing schedule of Tabex.