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Smoking cessation

New option for smokers wanting to quit in Scotland

Quit smoking cigarette butt

Community pharmacists in Scotland can now supply varenicline (Champix) as part of the national smoking cessation service.

The decision comes after a review recommended the service could be improved by increasing the range of products available and by making follow-up arrangements more robust.

An update to the public health service (PHS) specification for smoking cessation services now means varenicline can be supplied to smokers who have already attempted to quit using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Patients should be monitored by the pharmacist each week for 12 weeks, and the patient’s GP informed of the supply.

Lynne Lawrence, pharmacy manager at Boots in the Bon Accord Centre, Aberdeen, has experience of supplying varenicline under a local patient group direction developed by NHS Grampian. “It has been really positive. When someone failed on NRT before, it was the end of the road. This provides a new solution,” she said.

Lawrence says that weekly follow-up by the pharmacist is crucial to the patient succeeding and points out that GPs do not usually provide this level of monitoring when they write a monthly prescription for varenicline.

Pharmacists should be aware that some patients request varenicline when it is not appropriate for them, says Lawrence, such as prior to trying NRT.

The new PHS service also includes changes to the follow-up reporting process. Patients should be followed up at 4 weeks and 12 weeks post-quit date, with a carbon monoxide breath test, and the results electronically recorded in the smoking cessation support tool in the pharmacy care record. Payment will be linked to the submission of electronic data.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.20065555

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