Nicotinell is one of the leading licensed brands of nicotine patches, used to help people smoking. Introduced in 1992, it is manufactured by Geigy Pharmaceuticals and has reportedly helped thousands of heavy smokers to quit. The Imperial Cancer resea
Research from the University Hospital of Wales has concluded that the patches can even help people with ulcerative colitis (New England Journal of Medicine, March 24, 1994).
But some specialists are worried that the patches could become the answer for all smokers, when they should be viewed only as a last resort option for very heavy smokers unable to give up by willpower.
Nicotine is a highly toxic drug and doses can be lethal if rapidly absorbed. The patches are intended to leak nicotine to the system once a day; the least powerful contains 17.5 mg of nicotine, the middle range has 35 mg and the strongest has 52.5 mg.
People should not smoke when using the patches; five people in the US who did so knowingly to give themselves a nicotine "rush" died of a heart attack.
Patches should not be used on children, and indeed may be fatal on them, on pregnant or nursing women or on occasional smokers. Others at risk include those with a heart condition, angina, irregular heart rhythms, diseases of the skin, ulcers, diabetes, kidney problems and high blood pressure.
Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, sweating and pallor. The usual litany of problems associated with smoking also applies.