'Smart' pill eases twin nicotine urges
BRITISH scientists are patenting the first "smart" anti-smoking pill that responds to both the urgent desire for a cigarette and the long-term cycle of craving.
Researchers in the school of pharmacy at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen have designed a unique two-layer pill, similar in appearance to tablets of detergent for washing machines.
The top layer of the tablet contains nicotine that is released quickly to be absorbed swiftly into the bloodstream, mimicking the "quick fix" effect of nicotine inhalers. The bottom layer also contains nicotine, but this is released slowly over three to four hours, smoothing out the repeated cravings in a similar way to a nicotine patch. The two halves are made separately and pressed together by hand.
Callum Park, a second-year PhD student who is working on the tablet as his research project, said: "There are two basic theories of nicotine-replacement therapy at the moment: giving some nicotine quickly, as in a cigarette, or giving it slowly over a period of time."
"For the first time we are combining the two. The quick-release part works like the inhaler or nasal spray, while the slow-release part gives a constant background of nicotine to take away the peaks and troughs of craving."
Amanda Sandford, a spokesman for Action on Smoking and Health, described the new pill as a "jolly good idea". She said: "It sounds as though this new product could help all types of smoker, both the heavily and the lightly addicted."
The research team has applied for a patent but it could take several years for a marketable version to reach chemists' shelves.