nicotine patch (Nicoderm CQ, Habitrol)

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GENERIC NAME: nicotine patch

BRAND NAME: Nicoderm CQ, Habitrol

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Nicotine patches are used for smoking cessation. Nicotine is released from the patches and absorbed through the skin. Released nicotine binds to nicotine receptors in the body, reducing nicotine craving and withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking cessation. The FDA approved the grit nicotine patch in November 1991.



PREPARATIONS: Nicotine patches are available in doses of: 21 mg (Step 1), 14 mg (Step 2), and 7 mg (Step 3) per patch. Each patch delivers nicotine over 24 hours.

STORAGE: Nicotine patches should be stored at room temperature, 20 C to 25 C (68 F to 77 F).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Nicotine patches are used to control nicotine withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with smoking cessation.


Smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day:

  • Step 1: Use one 21 mg patch per day for weeks 1 to 6 then,
  • Step 2: Use one 14 mg patch per day for weeks 7 to 8 then,
  • Step 3: Use one 7 mg patch per day for weeks 9 to 10 then stop.

Smoking 10 or less cigarettes per day:

  • Do not use Step 1 (21 mg)
  • Start with Step 2: Use one 14 mg patch per day for weeks 1 to 6 then,
  • Step 3: Use one 7 mg patch per day for weeks 7 to 8 then stop.

Apply one new patch every 24 hours to dry, clean, hairless skin. Patients may wear the patch for 16 to 24 hours. Do not wear one patch for more than 24 hours due to chances of skin irritation and loss of effectiveness of patch.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Nicotine patches may cause palpitations and abnormal heart rate. Patches should be used with caution in patients who take medications for abnormal heart rhythm.

PREGNANCY: There are no adequate studies of nicotine to determine safe and effective use in pregnant women.

NURSING MOTHERS: It is not known whether nicotine enters breast milk; therefore, it is best to be cautious before using it in nursing mothers.

SIDE EFFECTS: Nicotine patches can cause skin irritation, itching, dizziness, headache, rapid heartbeat, and nausea.

REFERENCE: FDA Prescribing Information.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/25/2014

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