At last, Chantix (Brand name in India, Japan, and UK: Champix ) is here ... in India, the last frontier in the smoking cessation market. India is home to one of the largest smoker population - estimated at 120 million. Chantix from Pfizer costs Rs. 10,000 (approx.) for a 12 week course. Chantix is the latest blockbuster from Pfizer - a billion dollar blockbuster drug. Except for a small controversy that Chantix when taken with alcohol may precipitate violent behavior, the drug is well accepted by allopaths. There is also a talk that Chantix may cause suicidal behavior, hence, doctor guidance is very important for taking Chantix. Zyban is a competitor drug that competes in this market space. Compared with Zyban (bupropion), Chantix is shown to be more effective.
It is all about dopamine. Nicotine has an effect in increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter DOPAMINE in the pleasure center of the brain called nucleus accumbens and other centers of the brain (which is shown in the picture above. I got the good picture from HERE). Since nicotine causes stimulation of the nicotinic receptors, it is hard for a smoker to reduce the cravings for nicotine.
The active ingredient is VARENICLINE TARTRATE - a partial agonist of the nicotinic receptor in the brain. Varenicline is a derivative of cysteine - an alkaloid that stimulates nicotinic receptors in the brain. Chantix acts as a partial stimulant (or you can say, partial blocker, when you look at it the other way) of the nicotinic receptor in the brain.
ASHWAGANDHA TOO IS USEFUL AS A SMOKING CESSATION AID: Ashwagandha is well known as Wintercherry. The botanical name is Withania somnifera. The popular rejuvenating herb is an anti-stressor herb. Ashwagandha has a mechanism of action that is a little similar to Chantix. Ashwagandha may help decrease the cravings for nicotine. Withanolides (Withaferin A and B) have an activity in increasing the dopamine levels in the brain. There is an interest to patent the use of withanolides as energy raising nutraceuticals. Thus, Ashwagandha, pharmacodynamically speaking, is useful as a smoking cessation aid. Moreover, the herb rejuvenates the nervous system and relaxes the mind. As such, IF BACKED WITH PERSUASIVE CLINICAL TRIALS, Ashwagandha can be positioned along with smoking cessation drugs like Zyban and Chantix...Ashwagandha is more economical too.
Chantix will cause category expansion. The increase in number of players in a market segment normally causes 'category market expansion', as the noise level goes up, and concept acceptance gets increased. Savvy Ashwagandha marketers can peg on to this trend too. (Brand name in India, Japan, and UK: Champix )