A recent study may be able to help those who want to quit smoking but who have been successful so far, and the solution may be Alzheimer’s medications. University of Pennsylvania researchers Dr. Rebecca Ashare and Dr. Heath Schmidt conducted a rat trial study and then a human trial study using Alzheimer’s medications that had already received FDA approval to study the affects of two specific acetylcholinesterase inhibitors on the amount of nicotine intake overall. The AchEIs that were studied were galantamine and donepezil. In the rat study the rats which were pretreated with one of these two AchEIs had a decrease in nicotine consumption. The human trial which followed showed similar results, with study participants smoking more than 2 fewer cigarettes each day when they received an AchEI.
Dr. Schmidt explained what researchers found during the study on Alzheimer’s medications and efforts to quit smoking, saying “For both drugs we were able to show a reduction in total nicotine self-administered. We know from the literature that upward of 30 percent of patients will report nausea and vomiting [when taking these drugs], and this will limit their compliance. We had seen that these drugs reduced nicotine self-administration, but we wanted to make sure it wasn’t because the rats were sick. At the doses shown to reduce nicotine self-administration, the AChEIs did not make our animals sick.” The study details and findings were published and can be found in Translational Psychiatry. According to Dr. Ashare “Our goal in investigating these different repurposed medications is not to replace the medications that are already available. We know that they’re effective. Our goal is to target different populations of smokers who may be more likely to experience these cognitive deficits.”