Vaccine could treat nicotine addiction

Marketplace Staff Jan 4, 2010
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Vaccine could treat nicotine addiction

Marketplace Staff Jan 4, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: There’s that old Mark Twain quote: “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a thousand times.” Well not much has changed for smokers in the century after his death. For those who’ve made a New Year’s resolution to finally put the pack down, there soon may be new hope, as Brett Neely reports.


Brett Neely: Many smokers use nicotine patches or gum when they try to quit. But you’re still using nicotine.

Raafat Fahim: It is the one molecule that creates the addiction.

That’s Raafat Fahim. He’s the CEO of Nabi Biopharmaceuticals in Maryland. Instead of using an addictive substance to wean smokers, Nabi’s scientists started looking at different approaches.

Fahim: Lo and behold, we actually did find that the body can create antibodies to the nicotine molecule itself.

In other words, Nabi is developing the world’s first vaccine against nicotine.

Called NicVax, it’s currently in advanced clinical trials. Doctors inject the drug to protect smokers from nicotine’s addictive effects.

Insurance companies will probably pay for the treatment if gets approved, says pharmaceutical analyst Bob Wasserman.

Bob Wasserman: They want people to stop before they have to start paying for heart disease and lung cancer and high blood pressure, and the other things that come along with smoking.

Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline thinks the drug could have blockbuster potential. It has paid Nabi $40 million for the rights to market and sell the vaccine if the FDA approves it. A final decision should come in 2011.

In Washington, I’m Brett Neely for Marketplace.

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