Many effective treatments for nicotine addiction inhibit noradrenaline reuptake. Three recent studies have suggested that another noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor, atomoxetine, may reduce smoking behaviors.
The present double-blind, placebo-controlled, fixed-dose study was carried out over 21 days during which administration of 40 mg atomoxetine was compared to placebo in 17 individuals. Of these, nine were randomized to atomoxetine and eight to placebo. Baseline and weekly measurements were made using the Cigarette Dependence Scale (CDS), Cigarette Withdrawal Scale (CWS), Questionnaire of Smoking Urges (QSU), reported number of cigarettes smoked, and salivary cotinine levels.
The study results showed that all those on placebo completed the study. In marked contrast, of the nine individuals who started on atomoxetine, five dropped out due to side effects. In a completer analysis there were statistically significant differences at 14 and 21 days in several measures between the atomoxetine and placebo groups, including CDS, CWS, QSU, number of cigarettes smoked (decreasing to less than two per day in the treatment group who completed the study), and a trend towards lower mean salivary cotinine levels. However, these differences were not seen in a last observation carried forward (LOCF) analysis.
In summary, this is the first study to examine the use of atomoxetine in non-psychiatric adult smokers for a period of more than 7 days, and the findings suggest that atomoxetine might be a useful treatment for nicotine addiction. However, the dose used in the current study was too high to be tolerated by many adults, and a dose-finding study is required to determine the most appropriate dose for future studies of this potential treatment for smoking cessation.
Keywords: adults, atomoxetine, clinical trial, double-blind, nicotine, placebo-controlled, smoking