Clonidine for smoking cessation
Gourlay SG, Stead LF, Benowitz NL.
Genentech Inc, 2 DNA Way,
South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000;(2):CD000058


BACKGROUND: Clonidine was originally used to lower blood pressure. It acts on the central nervous system and may reduce withdrawal symptoms in various addictive behaviours, including tobacco use. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this review is to determine clonidine's effectiveness in helping smokers to quit. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group trials register. Date of the most recent search: October 1998. SELECTION CRITERIA: We considered randomised trials of clonidine versus placebo with a smoking cessation endpoint assessed at least 12 weeks following the end of treatment. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We extracted data in duplicate on the type of subjects, the dose and duration of clonidine therapy, the outcome measures, method of randomisation, and completeness of follow-up. The main outcome measure was abstinence from smoking after at least twelve weeks follow-up in patients smoking at baseline. We used the most rigorous definition of abstinence for each trial, and biochemically validated rates if available. Where appropriate, we performed meta-analysis using a fixed effects model. MAIN RESULTS: Six trials met the inclusion criteria. There were three trials of oral, and three of transdermal clonidine. Some form of behavioural counselling was offered to all participants in five of the six trials. There was a statistically significant effect of clonidine in one of these trials. The pooled odds ratio for success with clonidine vs placebo was 1.89 (95% confidence interval 1.30 to 2.74). There was a high incidence of dose-dependent side-effects, particularly dry mouth and sedation. REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: Based on a small number of trials, in which there are potential sources of bias, clonidine is effective in promoting smoking cessation. Prominent side-effects limit the usefulness of clonidine for smoking cessation.
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