A number of smoking cessation pharmacotherapies have led to increases in quitting and thus to significant benefits to public health. Among existing medications, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been available the longest, has the largest literature base in support, and is the only option for over-the-counter access. While the short-term efficacy of NRT is well documented in clinical trials, long-term abstinence rates associated with using NRT are modest, as most smokers will relapse. This literature review examines emerging clinical strategies to improve NRT efficacy. After an initial overview of NRT and its FDA-approved indications for use, we review randomized trials in which clinical delivery of NRT was manipulated and tested, in an attempt to enhance efficacy, through (1) duration of use (pre-quit and extended use), (2) amount of use (high-dose and combination NRT), (3) tailoring to specific smoker groups (genotype and phenotype), or (4) use of NRT for novel purposes (relapse prevention, temporary abstinence, cessation induction). Outcomes vary within and across topic area, and we highlight areas that offer stronger promise. Combination NRT likely represents the most promising strategy moving forward; other clinical strategies offer conflicting evidence but deserve further testing (pre-quit NRT or tailored treatment) or offer potential utility but are in need of further, direct tests. Some areas, though based on a limited set of studies, do not offer great promise (high-dose and extended treatment NRT). We conclude with a brief discussion of emergent NRT products (e.g., oral nicotine spray, among others), which may ultimately offer greater efficacy than current formulations. In order to further lower the prevalence of smoking, novel strategies designed to optimize NRT efficacy are needed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)