Date lodged: 30 October 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking in response to the finding in its 2018 tobacco-control action plan that only 11% of smoking cessation service users are prescribed varenicline, in light of the observation in the plan that the drug "has been shown to be a more helpful means of quitting than using traditional nicotine replacement therapies".
Answered by: Joe FitzPatrick 8 November 2018
The Scottish Government is raising awareness amongst prescribers about the relative effectiveness of varenicline compared to traditional nicotine replacement therapies. The percentage of smoking cessation service users being prescribed varenicline rose to 19% in 2017-18. The Scottish Government expects this percentage to rise further in future years.
NHS Public Health teams are working within Health Boards to improve clinical confidence in varenicline, which has now been cleared for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
People are offered a wide range of approaches and products for smoking cessation. The level of varenicline use will reflect in part that people are currently preferring other methods, such as nicotine replacement. Public Health teams are working within the Boards to improve clinical confidence in varenicline, which had been associated with potential harm by the Medicines Health Regulatory Association in 2008. Subsequent clinical research has demonstrated that varenicline is safe to use for many people wanting to stop smoking. It is anticipated that the use of varenicline will continue to increase.