President and CMO at Achieve Life Sciences, Dr. Cindy Jacobs, spoke with Technology Networks about the key challenges related to breaking nicotine addiction and Achieve Life Sciences’ mission to help people who are looking to quit smoking.

Laura Elizabeth Lansdowne

Managing Editor

The pharmaceutical company Achieve Life Sciences is focused on addressing one of the biggest public health threats globally – tobacco use. By developing treatment options for people who are battling nicotine addiction, it hopes to reduce the number of preventable deaths caused by smoking.

Technology Networks had the pleasure of speaking with Cindy Jacobs, MD, PhD and chief medical officer at Achieve Life Sciences to learn more about cytisinicline, a plant-based alkaloid the company is currently developing as a smoking cessation treatment.

Laura Lansdowne (LL): Tobacco use is one of the biggest public health threats globally. Could you elaborate on the current global tobacco and nicotine addiction epidemic, what strategies can be used to address this?

Cindy Jacobs
 (CJ): Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and is responsible for 8 million premature deaths each year worldwide. Reducing these deaths requires a two-pronged approach. The first is educational outreach and implementation of policies that discourage people from starting to smoke. The second is making it easier for current smokers to quit, which in itself comprises multiple approaches. One of those is encouraging and facilitating candid and productive discussions between smokers and their healthcare providers about why they should quit and what resources are available to help them achieve their smoking cessation goals. Another is ensuring that healthcare providers themselves are educated about the importance of recommending both evidence-based pharmacotherapy and behavioral support, as this combination is more effective than either approach by itself.

Since no new treatments have been approved in over a decade, new pharmacologic therapy options are desperately needed. Currently available treatments can have side effects that lead to high rates of early discontinuation, thus reducing their overall efficacy. U.S. claims data show that 76% of those using Chantix® (varenicline), the most commonly prescribed smoking cessation therapy, fail to complete the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved three-month treatment regimen. A survey sponsored by Achieve found that the occurrence of side effects was the primary reason that 61% of survey respondents failed to complete their full prescription of Chantix or Zyban® (bupropion), the other prescription non-nicotine replacement therapy used for smoking cessation.

Achieve believes that cytisinicline, a natural, plant-based smoking cessation therapy, could be an important addition to the smoking cessation treatment landscape. Clinical data generated to