Smoking Cessation Improves Antipsychotics' Effect

Article excerpt

PHOENIX, ARIZ. -- Cigarette smoking is commonplace in many psychiatric facilities, but authorities have been reluctant to ban the practice for fear that withdrawing nicotine may worsen symptoms in patients taking antipsychotic medication.

It appears, however, that these patients actually improve after a smoking cessation program, David W. Hindman, Ph.D. said in a poster session at a meeting of the New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Dr. Hindman and his colleagues recruited 51 adult smokers who were also receiving antipsychotic therapy. All entered a smoking cessation program in which they received gradually reduced doses of nicotine via transdermal patches, with total cessation by week 12.

Investigators assessed patient symptoms via the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) at baseline, every other week through week 14, and also at week 24.

As judged by PANSS scores, general psychiatric symptoms were significantly better than baseline at week 2 and continued to improve through week 24. By that time, the average score on that subscale had declined more than 10 points from baseline, said Dr. Hindman of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, Calif. …