Bupropion (Zyban)

Zyban, also known as bupropion, is a multiple-use drug, originally developed as an anti-depressant under the name Wellbutrin, but later shown to be effective in treating a variety of symptoms, such as anxiety, ADHD, obesity and smoking addiction. Bupropion was approved by the FDA in 1997 under the name Zyban as an aid in smoking cessation, with treatment time lasting two to three months, and is available by prescription in the United States, as well as in generic form.

Effectiveness in quitting smoking

Patients show higher quit rates when using Zyban than the placebo group, both in short and long term studies, though the effectiveness rate of Zyban is not as strong as other prescription stop smoking aids such as Chantix (varenicline).

Comparison of quit rates after a one year period:

Placebo: 10%

Zyban (Bupropion): 15%

Chantix (varenicline): 23%

Administration of Zyban thus shows a 50% higher rate of smoking cessation than patients taking a placebo or no medication, though it is not the most highly effective quit smoking aid when compared to other prescription drugs or other quit smoking products, such as the nicotine patch or gum. Nevertheless it remains a highly-prescribed treatment and can help users in smoking cessation.

Side effects and controversy

Common side effects include dry mouth, nausea, insomnia, tremors, rashes, sweating and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), but Zyban carries the FDA's strongest warning due to its potential psychological effects in some patients. Though rare, Zyban has been implicated in suicidal behavior, agitation and hostility. Multiple causality studies have thus far been either inconclusive or show no statistically significant difference from placebo treatment, and psychiatric side effects are lower in patients using Zyban to quit smoking (as opposed to patients using the same drug as an anti-depressant, as they would have higher rates of psychiatric problems to begin with). Nevertheless, doctors and patients should exercise caution when prescribing or taking the drug, especially in patients with histories of psychiatric problems.

Can I quit smoking cigarettes with Zyban?

Zyban has been in use for decades as an effective treatment for a variety of symptoms, and its use a method to quit smoking cigarettes has received FDA approval and demonstrated a higher effectiveness rate among patients than a control group using a placebo. However, it shows neither the highest quit rate among prescription drugs or other non-drug treatment methods. It exhibits some of the same side effects as varenicline (Chantix), though varenicline's side effects seem to be more well-documented.

Nevertheless Zyban has proven to be effective as a method to quit smoking, and its side effects appear to be comparable to other products, occurring rarely in patients using the product as a smoking cessation aid.

Read a full comparison of the best ways to quit smoking.