Long-term effectiveness and safety of varenicline and nicotine replacement therapy in people with neurodevelopmental disorders: A prospective cohort study

Taha Itani, Dheeraj Rai, Tim Jones, Gemma Taylor, Kyla H Thomas, Richard Martin, Marcus R Munafò, Neil Davies, Amy Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study aimed to determine the effectiveness and safety of varenicline versus NRT for smoking cessation in people with neurodevelopmental disorders, compared to those without, at up to four years after exposure. We analysed electronic medical records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink using three different statistical approaches: multivariable logistic regression, propensity score matching (PSM), and instrumental variable analysis. Exposure was prescription of varenicline versus NRT and the primary outcome was smoking cessation at 2-years. We included 235,314 people aged 18 and above with eligible smoking cessation prescriptions in the effectiveness analysis. Smokers with neurodevelopmental disorders were 48% less likely (95% confidence interval: 42%, 54%) to be prescribed varenicline than NRT, compared to smokers without neurodevelopmental disorders. At 2-year follow-up, smokers with neurodevelopmental disorders prescribed varenicline were 38% more likely to quit smoking (95% confidence interval: 6%, 78%). Similar results were obtained using PSM and instrumental variable analyses. There was little evidence showing that varenicline increased the likelihood of mental health related adverse events in people with neurodevelopmental disorders. Varenicline is less likely to be prescribed to people with neurodevelopmental disorders despite results suggesting it is more effective than NRT and little evidence of increased likelihood of mental health related adverse events.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19488
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2019


  • CPRD
  • Varenicline
  • NRT
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Primary Care
  • instrumental variable analyses

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