Lead author Robert West, director of tobacco studies at the Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Research Center at University College London said co-investigator Witold Zatonski, a doctor at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Warsaw, Poland, had been telling him for years that "there was this pill available in Eastern Europe that he believed was effective and cost next to nothing," to help smokers quit.
The drug, sold under the name Tabex to Eastern European countries for more than 40 years, binds with high affinity to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, controlling nicotine dependence, Medscape Medical News reported.
Although Tabex was withdrawn by some countries when they joined the European Union, it is still available in Poland for about $15 for a treatment course and for about $6 in Russia, Zatonski said.
A randomized, controlled trial of more than 740 smokers from Poland, who smoked 10 or more cigarettes a day for 25 days.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed significantly more participants receiving cytisine maintained smoking abstinence at six months and one year compared with those receiving a placebo.