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Zyban - information on this prescription drug that helps people to stop smoking.

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Zyban - A Guide

What kind of drug is it and how does it work?

Zyban belongs to a class of drugs known as antidepressants and is prescribed to help people stop smoking. It works by changing two neurotransmitters in the brain that are involved in the symptoms of withdrawal and nicotine addiction.

The generic name for Zyban is Bupropion.

Update: a new anti-smoking drug called Champix has been approved by the European Commission which may be more effective than Zyban. Click here for information on Champix.

Who manufactures it?

Zyban is made by GlaxoSmithKline and is also known as Wellbutrin, especially when prescribed as an antidepressant as opposed to an aid to stopping smoking.

Does Zyban really work?

Zyban has been clinically proven to reduce the withdrawal effects of quitting smoking, including reducing cigarette cravings and the urge to smoke. However, you will still need a strong desire to give up and your own will power in order to be successful.

A clinical trial that was reported in an American medical journal, the "New England Journal of Medicine", showed that 33% people who took Zyban were not smoking after a year, compared to only 16% who used nicotine replacement patches.

Is Zyban safe?

There has been much debate in the media about this recently, with Zyban receiving negative press. Zyban is a relatively new drug but it is currently available on the NHS in the UK. Some patients taking it have died - but patients who smoke die anyway and it has therefore been argued that reports of fatalities amongst patients taking this drug are to be expected.

There are side effects (see below) of taking this drug, but there are also much more serious risks associated with smoking. You should consider the relative risks with your doctor in order to decide whether you would be better taking this drug or opting for Nicotine replacement therapy.

What are the side effects?

Common, less serious side effects include sleep disturbance and a dry mouth. Seizures have also been reported, especially in "at risk" patients. Other side effects reported include: flu like symptons, headache, sore throat, sickness and diarrhoea, chest pains, faintness, anxiety and a bad taste in the mouth.

How is it taken?

The tablet comes in either regular (Wellbutrin), sustained release (Wellbutrin SR) or extended release (Wellbutrin XL) form and is taken orally. The regular form is taken 3 or 4 times per day, the sustained release form is taken twice a day and the extended release form is taken once a day. It is usually taken as a two month course.

For further information on quitting smoking, visit Giving Up Smoking.