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Why is Cytisine not available in the U.S.

Why is Cytisine not available in the U.S.

Navin Khosla NowPatientGreen tick
Created on 16 Jul 2024
Updated on 16 Jul 2024

Quitting smoking is a challenging endeavor, but there are several stop-smoking aids available to help individuals overcome nicotine addiction. One such medication is cytisine, a plant-derived compound that has shown promising results in smoking abstinence. However, despite its effectiveness, cytisine is not available in the United States. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the unavailability of cytisine in the U.S., its benefits, and the regulatory challenges associated with bringing it to market.

The benefits of Cytisine for smoking cessation

Cytisine, a plant alkaloid derived from the seeds of the Laburnum tree has been used in eastern Europe as a smoking cessation pharmacotherapy since the 1960s. It is a natural compound that acts as a partial agonist of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain. This mechanism of action makes it effective in reducing nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it a valuable tool for individuals who are looking to quit smoking.

Study findings demonstrated the efficacy of cytisine in smoking cessation. A randomized controlled trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that cytisine was more effective than a placebo in achieving abstinence from smoking at both one and six months. Another study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded that cytisine was a cost-effective treatment option for smoking cessation, with similar efficacy to other medications like nicotine replacement therapy and varenicline.

As with any pharmacological intervention, cytisine may cause unwanted effects. Common side effects include nausea, stomach problems, difficulties sleeping, and abnormal dreams. Serious adverse events, such as suicidal thoughts, heart problems, and elevated blood pressure, are also possible but relatively rare. It’s important to monitor and evaluate the risks and benefits of cytisine individually.

The regulatory challenges of bringing Cytisine to the U.S.

Despite its proven efficacy, cytisine faces several regulatory hurdles that have prevented its availability in the United States. One of the main challenges is the need for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA requires extensive clinical trials and safety data to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of new medications before they can be marketed in the U.S. This rigorous process can be time-consuming and expensive for pharmaceutical companies.

Additionally, the FDA requires evidence of manufacturing quality and consistency, which can be a challenge for cytisine due to its natural origin. Natural products like cytisine may have variations in potency and composition, making it difficult to meet the FDA’s stringent requirements. Pharmaceutical companies would need to invest in additional research and development to ensure consistent quality and standardization of cytisine.

The success of Cytisine in other countries

While cytisine is not available in the U.S., it has been successfully used in other countries such as Central and Eastern European countries, Canada, and New Zealand for smoking cessation. One such example is Poland, where cytisine has been available as a smoking cessation medication for decades. In Poland, cytisine is sold under the brand name “Tabex” and is widely prescribed by healthcare professionals.

The availability of cytisine in other countries demonstrates its potential as an effective smoking cessation tool. It has been estimated that cytisine is four times cheaper than other smoking cessation medications like varenicline, making it a more affordable option for individuals looking to quit smoking.

Alternative options for smoking cessation in the U.S.

While cytisine is not currently available in the U.S., other FDA-approved medications can aid in smoking cessation. These include nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as nicotine patches, gum, and lozenges, as well as prescription medications like bupropion and varenicline.

Nicotine replacement therapy works by providing a controlled dose of nicotine to the body, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Bupropion, an antidepressant, can also help reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Varenicline, a medication specifically designed to assist with smoking cessation, works by blocking the effects of nicotine on the brain.

It is important for individuals seeking to quit smoking to consult with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable treatment option for their needs. Quitting smoking is a complex process, and a personalized approach can greatly increase the chances of success.

The potential future availability of Cytisine in the U.S.

While cytisine is not currently available in the U.S., there is ongoing research and interest in its potential as a smoking cessation medication. Pharmaceutical companies and researchers are exploring ways to overcome the regulatory challenges associated with bringing cytisine to the U.S. market.

One potential avenue is through partnerships and collaborations between pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions. By leveraging existing research and expertise, these partnerships can help streamline the development and approval process for cytisine.

Additionally, advancements in manufacturing and quality control techniques may address the challenges related to the natural origin of cytisine. Standardization processes and quality assurance measures can ensure consistent potency and composition, meeting the FDA’s requirements for pharmaceutical products.


Cytisine, a plant-derived compound, has shown promising results in smoking intervention. Its effectiveness and affordability make it an attractive option for individuals looking to quit smoking. However, regulatory challenges have prevented its availability in the United States. While other FDA-approved medications are currently available for smoking cessation, the potential future availability of cytisine in the U.S. offers hope for individuals seeking additional options to overcome nicotine addiction. As research and development efforts continue, healthcare professionals and regulatory authorities need to work together to ensure safe and effective treatments for smoking cessation.


Medical Disclaimer

NowPatient has taken all reasonable steps to ensure that all material is factually accurate, complete, and current. However, the knowledge and experience of a qualified healthcare professional should always be sought after instead of using the information on this page. Before taking any drug, you should always speak to your doctor or another qualified healthcare provider.

The information provided here about medications is subject to change and is not meant to include all uses, precautions, warnings, directions, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or negative effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a particular medication does not imply that the medication or medication combination is appropriate for all patients or for all possible purposes.

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