For Healthcare Professionals

Varenicline and Combined NRT for Smoking Cessation


About the study

This randomized pilot phase IV trial studies the side effects and how well varenicline works compared to nicotine replacement therapy in helping patients that smoke to quit. Varenicline is a drug that acts the same way as nicotine in the brain but is not habit-forming. Nicotine replacement therapy consists of nicotine patches and lozenges. It is not yet known if varenicline is more effective than nicotine replacement therapy in helping patients quit smoking.

Who can take part

You may be eligible to participate in the study if you meet the following criteria:


  1. Smoking 5 or more cigarettes, little cigars and/or cigarillos per day, on average, within the 2 months preceding the screening visit and expired carbon monoxide (CO) greater than or equal to 6 parts per million (ppm) (if less than or equal to 5, then positive cotinine test)
  2. Interested in treatment that might change smoking behavior
  3. Able to follow verbal and written instructions in English and complete all aspects of the study
  4. Provide informed consent and agree to all assessments and study procedures
  5. Have an address and telephone number where he/she may be reached
  6. Be the only participant in his/her household


  1. Within the month immediately preceding the screening visit, use of any form of tobacco products other than cigarettes, little cigars and/or cigarillos on 3 or more days within a week if the individual refuses to refrain from such tobacco use during the course of the study
  2. Current enrollment or plans to enroll in another smoking cessation program in the next 12 months
  3. Plan to use other nicotine substitutes (i.e., over-the-counter [OTC] or prescription medication for smoking cessation) or smoking cessation treatments in the next 12 months
  4. Uncontrolled hypertension (systolic blood pressure; [SBP] greater than 180 or diastolic blood pressure; [DBP] greater than 110)
  5. History of severe kidney disease (e.g. chronic or acute kidney failure) with creatinine clearance below 30 and/or severe liver disease with liver tests over 4 times the upper normal level
  6. Laboratory evaluations (kidney and liver) outside normal limits and of potential clinical significance in the opinion of the investigator
  7. Serious or unstable disease within the past 3 months
  8. History (last 3 months) of abnormal heart rhythms, cardiovascular disease (stroke, angina, heart attack) may result in ineligibility; these conditions will be evaluated on a case by case basis by the study physician
  9. Current use of certain medications: (1) smoking cessation meds (last 7 days), i.e., Wellbutrin, Bupropion, Zyban, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), Chantix, (2) certain medications to treat depression (last 14 days), i.e. monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and Elavil (Amitriptyline), (3) a case by case determination will be made by study physician for medication on precautionary list, i.e. nitroglycerin, or (4) daily use of opioids for 30 days or more on phone screen or at screening is exclusionary however pro re nata (PRN) use is allowed (i.e., 3:7 days per week or less or if more frequent, use less than a month's duration)
  10. Meet criteria for the following psychiatric and/or substance use disorders as assessed by the MINI International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI): items C (current manic or hypomanic episode only), I (alcohol abuse
  11. Alcohol Addendum
  12. past 6 months only; current alcohol dependence), J (substance abuse
  13. Substance Abuse Addendum
  14. past 6 months only; current substance dependence), K (current/lifetime psychotic disorder or current/lifetime mood disorder with psychotic features); individuals who meet criteria for non-exclusionary psychiatric disorders that are considered clinically unstable and/or unsuitable to participate as determined by the principal investigator and/or study physician
  15. Individuals rated as moderate (9-16) to high (17 or greater) on suicidality as assessed by Module B of the MINI
  16. Psychiatric hospitalization within 1 year of screening date
  17. A positive urine pregnancy test during the screening period; women who are two years post-menopausal, or who have had a tubal ligation or a partial or full hysterectomy will not be subject to a urine pregnancy test
  18. Pregnant, breast-feeding or of childbearing potential and is not protected by a medically acceptable, effective method of birth control while enrolled in the study; medically acceptable contraceptives include: (1) approved hormonal contraceptives (such as birth control pills, patches, implants or injections), (2) barrier methods (such as a condom or diaphragm) used with a spermicide, or (3) an intrauterine device (IUD); contraceptive measures sold for emergency use after unprotected sex are not acceptable methods for routine use
  19. History of hypersensitivity or allergic reaction to varenicline, NRT, or any component of these formulations
  20. Any medical or psychiatric condition, illness, disorder, or concomitant medication that could compromise participant safety or treatment, as determined by the principal investigator and/or study physician
  21. Subject considered by the investigator as unsuitable candidate for receipt of an investigational drug, or unstable to be followed up throughout the entire duration of the study
  22. Positive toxicology screen for any of the following drugs: cocaine, opiates, methadone, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, amphetamines, methamphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); a. participants with valid prescriptions for opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, amphetamines or methadone will not be excluded; b. participants failing the toxicology screen will be allowed to re-screen once; if they test positive again, they will not be allowed to return; study physician may clear participant to continue on if there is a reasonable possibility the positive drug screen is the result of cross-reactivity with the participant's concomitant medications resulting in a false positive
pin location

Study Locations

Enter your ZIP code/Postal code/PIN code to locate study sites near you:

How to Apply

Contact the study center to learn if this study is a good match for you.
Phone iconCall 713-792-0919Email iconEmail Study Center

Study’s details


Cigarette Smoker,Tobacco Use Cessation,Tobacco Use Disorder




Phase 4

Participants needed


Est. Completion Date

Jun 2024

Treatment type



M.D. Anderson Cancer Center identifier


Study number


Understanding Clinical Trials

Get answers to your questions about clinical trials.What is a clinical research?What does taking part in clinical trials involve?What should I ask the trial doctor?


Sign up to save your favorites, 
receive newsletters, resources, and alerts 
about clinical trials related to your conditions of interest.