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Friday, 1 June, 2001, 01:22 GMT 02:22 UK
Anti-smoking drug on sale in India
Indian protest against smoking
The launch coincided with World No Tobacco day
By Sanjeev Srivastava in Bombay

The pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has announced a new drug for the Indian market, Zyban, which is said to offer significant help to people trying to give up smoking.

The company says that it is the first time that an anti-smoking drug has been introduced in India, and that it will be sold only on prescription.

Indian smoker
Glaxo says it offers the chance for addicts to quit
Its launch co-incided with the World Health Organisation's No Tobacco Day, which this year is focused on banning smoking in public places.

Company officials say that Zyban is a new oral prescription drug and - unlike other therapies available for smokers - does not contain nicotine.

Treatment is spread over a period of seven to 12 weeks and addicts are allowed to continue smoking for a few weeks after starting the course.

Officials say that two Zyban tablets (of 150 mg) a day will offer the best opportunity for a motivated quitter to kick the habit.

The treatment is expected to cost about $110 per person.

Zyban is being marketed in more than 80 countries in the world, and its effectiveness has been confirmed in a series of clinical trials.

Side-effects

But critics of the drug say that it needs to be more tightly controlled.

Anti-smoking protest
Legislation against tobacco marketing is before parliament
They warn that some patients have suffered adverse reactions to the drug.

A coroner in the UK recently called on the manufacturers to improve warnings about mixing the drug with other medication after a woman was found dead in her hotel room in Nairobi a fortnight after she was prescribed Zyban.

The launch of the drug in India coincided with an anti-smoking awareness drive alongside Bombay's seafront on Thursday.

Students carried placards listing the ill-effects of smoking, termed as the single largest cause of preventable disease in the world.

Miss India, Celina Jaitley, joined the anti-smoking activists.

In a bid to check the growing menace of tobacco consumption, the Indian Government recently introduced a bill in parliament which imposes restrictions on the marketing of tobacco products in the country.

However, some consumer rights activists are concerned about the fate of the bill, as similar legislation was also moved in the national parliament in the early 1990s - but was successfully opposed by the tobacco lobby.

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See also:

26 Jul 99 | Health
Chewing tobacco cancer warning
15 Oct 99 | The Company File
The economics of tobacco
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