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FDA Approves Nicotine Spray


May 1996

On March 25, the Food and Drug Administration announced it had approved a prescription nicotine nasal spray designed to help people quit smoking (Associated Press, "Nicotine Nasal Spray Aims to Halt Smoking," New York Times, March 26, 1996, p. C7).

The spray, Nicotrol NS, allows smokers to inhale doses of nicotine to help them relieve nicotine cravings while they are quitting. The product is manufactured by McNeil Consumer Products of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, and should be available by prescription later this year.

The FDA cautioned that because the spray contains nicotine, it can be addictive (for background, see "Nicotine Nasal Spray an Alternative to the Nicotine Patch and Gum," NewsBriefs, August 1994, p. 11). The agency has recommended the spray be prescribed for three month periods, with use not to exceed six months.

Preliminary studies show the spray is more effective than no method at all in helping smokers to quit. Of 730 people who used the spray, 25 percent were not smoking one year later. The average for those not using any method was 13 percent.