NicVax was created with the hopes it would become a magical vaccine that would help smokers quit. If this sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is. During clinical trials, researchers discovered that NicVax performed just like the placebo given to other participants of the experiment. Basically, scientists realized that the vaccine did nothing.
NicVax is the first anti-nicotine vaccine to enter Phase 3 clinical trials, the last stage of testing before a drug can reach the market. The vaccine was designed to train the immune system to produce antibodies that would bind to nicotine and prevent it from reaching the brain, thus avoiding the possibility of developing an addiction to it. The only problem is that during the trials, the drug was found to be as effective as the placebo used, only helping about 11% of smokers quit. In other words, it does not work whatsoever.
Dr. Fahim who was involved in the trials told analysts that NicVax performed as expected in the clinical trial in terms of spurring the production of antibodies against nicotine. However, that did not seem to help people quit. Smoking cessation was defined as continuous abstinence from week 37 to week 52 of the trial, as determined by self-reported cigarette consumption and exhaled carbon dioxide. The trial involved 1,000 smokers who had expressed an interest in quitting.
Ultimately, NicVax is as effective a glass of water would be in helping smokers kick the habit. “We are clearly quite surprised and extremely disappointed by the results of the trial,’’ Raafat Fahim, chief executive of Nabi Biopharmaceuticals, the developer of the vaccine. After the announcement, shares of Nabi, a small company in Rockville, MD., lost two-thirds of their value and smokers were nowhere closer to having a cure for their habit.
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Tags: electronic cigarettes