The US FDA has approved New York-based Pfizer’s anti-smoking pill, Chantix (varenicline). Chantix, the first new prescription medication approved for smoking cessation in nearly a decade, received priority review designation by the FDA because of its potential to be a significant therapeutic advance over existing therapies.

Chantix is specifically designed to partially activate the nicotinic receptor and reduce the severity of the smoker’s craving and the withdrawal symptoms from nicotine. Moreover, if a person smokes a cigarette while receiving treatment, Chantix has the potential to diminish the sense of satisfaction associated with smoking. This may help to prevent the cycle of nicotine addiction.

“Pfizer’s discovery and development of Chantix demonstrates groundbreaking science, leading to the first prescription treatment aimed directly at smoking cessation in nearly a decade,” said Hank McKinnell, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer. “Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. It is responsible for approximately one in five deaths in the United States and costs the US health care system about $167 billion annually. This medical advance from Pfizer will now help many smokers end their addiction.”