May 7, 2002
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Other Names:
Wellbutrin
Bupropion Hydrochloride

Adverse Effects/
Potential Injuries:

Seizures
Anxiety
Nervousness
Death

Other Categories:
Anti-Smoking Drug

Practice Area(s):
Defective Drugs

EU Agency to Review Zyban Smoking Cessation Drug
Reuters Health -

02/22/02 - The European Medicines Evaluation Agency said on Friday it is reviewing GlaxoSmithKline's smoking cessation drug Zyban following safety concerns.


In a statement, it said its scientific committee would examine the risks and benefits of the drug at the request of Germany.

The German concerns follow five reported deaths in patients taking Zyban since it was launched in 2000.

A spokesman for the agency in London said the review was expected to last several months.

On January 17, Britain's Medicines Control Agency reported that it had received 6,975 reports of suspected adverse drug reactions, including 57 deaths.

However British drug regulators have stressed that the drug's contribution to the deaths is "unproven" and that in most cases the individual's underlying condition might have been responsible.

The number of reported side effects remains small compared to the risks of smoking and relative to the large number of prescriptions issued. An estimated 500,000 people have taken Zyban in Britain and more than 330,000 in Germany.

A GSK spokesman said that the firm welcomed the review as a chance to support the drug and would respond to all requests for information.

"You have to remember that Zyban plays a major role in helping smokers to stop and therefore reduces the burden and mortality of smoking.

"In the UK alone 120,000 deaths a year are due to smoking-related illnesses--more than 300 a day."

Regulators suspect that many of the reported side effects have occurred in patients who should not have been prescribed the drug.

Last May, the UK Committee on Safety of Medicines issued a statement to doctors ordering changes to the starting dosages of Zyban and warning that patients at risk of a seizure should take the drug only if there were compelling reasons to do so.

The UK Medicines Control Agency also issued a reminder last month that the drug should not be prescribed to patients with a history of seizures, bulimia or anorexia nervosa, or those experiencing abrupt withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines.

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