Nicotine patch

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A 21 mg dose patch applied to the left arm

A nicotine patch is a transdermal patch that releases nicotine into the body through the skin. It is used as an aid in nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), a process for smoking cessation.

Medical uses[edit]

Dozens of clinical trials have shown that the patch approximately doubles success rates over placebo treatment. Placebo tests show a 5.9% success rate, in comparison to the 7.2% blind active tests, and the 10.8% open tests.[1][2]

Side effects[edit]

Analysis of nicotine patches has shown that they contain tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), known cancer-causing agents, in quantities of up to 173 mg per patch.[3]


The first study of the pharmacokinetics of a transdermal nicotine patch in humans was published in 1984[4] by Jed E. Rose, Ph.D., Murray E. Jarvik, M.D., Ph.D. and K. Daniel Rose, and was followed by publication by Rose et al. (1985) of results of a study of smokers showing that a transdermal nicotine patch reduced craving for cigarettes.[5] Frank Etscorn Ph.D. filed a patent in the United States on January the 23rd 1985 and was issued the patent on July 1, 1986.[6] The University of California filed a competing patent application nearly 3 years after Etscorn's filing on February the 19th, 1988, which was granted on May 1, 1990.[7] Subsequently, the U.S. Patent Office declared an interference action and, after a thorough review of conception, reduction to practice and patent filing dates, issued on September 29, 1993 a priority decision in favor of the Rose et al. patent.[8]


Nicotine patches are under study to help relieve the symptoms of post-surgical pain[9] and treat early dementia.[10]

Studies are being conducted about the use of transdermal nicotine patches to treat anxiety, depression, and inattentiveness in subjects with ADHD.[11][verification needed]

Transdermal nicotine patches can be used to relieve ulcerative colitis symptoms. However, this is not the case with Crohn's disease, a similar health condition, where smoking and nicotine intake in general worsen the disease's effects.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Renshaw, Amy. "The Real Story Behind the Nicotine Patch and Smoking Cessation". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Fiore MC, Jaén CR, Baker TB, et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Public Health Service. April 2009
  3. ^ UCSF Library, 3 Feb 1995, Tobacco-Specific N-Nitrosamines in Nicotine Patches, retrieved 11 Aug 2013.
  4. ^ Rose, J. E.; Jarvik, M. E.; Rose, K. D. (1984). "Transdermal administration of nicotine". Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 13 (3): 209–213. doi:10.1016/0376-8716(84)90061-9. PMID 6734425. 
  5. ^ Rose, J. E.; Herskovic, J. E.; Trilling, Y.; Jarvik, M. E. (1985). "Transdermal nicotine reduces cigarette craving and nicotine preference". Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics. 38 (4): 450–456. doi:10.1038/clpt.1985.203. PMID 4042528. 
  6. ^ US 4597961, Etscorn, FT 
  7. ^ US 4920989 
  8. ^ OLIVIA M. DUVALL (21 February 1995). "Adverse Decisions in Interference". Board of Patent Appeals & Interferences. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "Nicotine Patch Decreases Post Surgical Pain". MediLexicon International Ltd, Bexhill-on-Sea, UK. 15 October 2007. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Nicotine Patches Up Early Memory Loss In Study". 9 January 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Cocores,, James A. (2008). "Transdermal Nicotine in Adult ADHD With Depression and Anxiety". Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 10 (3): 253–4. doi:10.4088/pcc.v10n0312f. PMC 2446482Freely accessible. PMID 18615164.