Drug Combo For Quitting Smoking That Minimizes Weight Gain

Researchers found that lorcaserin combined with varenicline minimized weight gain and waist circumference increases.

In a first-ever prospective study evaluating lorcaserin in reducing post-cessation weight gain in overweight and obese smokers, researchers found that lorcaserin combined with varenicline minimized weight gain and increases in waist circumference. Full findings from the study are published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research

For smokers concerned about weight, post-cessation weight gain is a key hindrance in maintaining abstinence. Varenicline, a smoking cessation agent, is an effective treatment but with minimal impact on post-cessation weight gain. Lorcaserin, an approved medication for weight management in overweight or obese patients, has also shown benefits in treating drug dependence.

Study authors investigated whether combining varenicline and lorcaserin could help prevent post-cessation weight gain in overweight and obese smokers by conducting a Phase 2, open-label, single arm clinical pilot study to gather data on the safety and efficacy of the drug combination.

The study included 28 overweight or obese (BMI 27–40kg/m2) cigarette smokers. Primary outcomes included weight and waist circumference changes at Week 12 and 26 in smokers meeting criteria for prolonged smoking abstinence. All study patients were given open-label varenicline 1mg twice daily + lorcaserin 10mg twice daily for 12 weeks with a follow-up at 26 weeks. 

At 12 weeks, 10 patients met the criteria for prolonged smoking abstinence, and 6 met the criteria at 26 weeks. Of those who achieved prolonged smoking abstinence at 12 weeks, waist circumference increased by only +0.2±6.0cm (90% CI: -2.9, +3.4) and weight gain was +1.1±3.9kg (90% CI: -0.9, +3.1), indicating the combination may minimize increases for both. 

Increases in weight and waist circumference following extended smoking abstinence may be reduced with the combination of varenicline and lorcaserin in overweight and obese smokers. Findings from this pilot study call for more research in this combination treatment among obese and weight-concerned smokers. 

Study authors added that “lorcaserin may be a potential new pharmacological treatment for smoking cessation and warrants further larger studies.”

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Hurt RT, Croghan IT, Schroeder DR, Hays JT, Choi DS, Ebbert JO. Combination varenicline and lorcaserin for tobacco dependence treatment and weight gain prevention in overweight and obese smokers: A pilot study. Nicotine Tob Res. 2016; doi:10.1093/ntr/ntw304.

This article originally appeared on MPR