Oral nicotine delivery products (ONDPs) are gaining popularity, but how do they affect users? A recent study by Battelle, completed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), measured the physiological effects and user perceptions of Verve, a new oral nicotine product from Nu-Mark LLC, a division of Altria, Philip Morris.
The peer-reviewed study, “Nicotine delivery and pharmacologic response from Verve, an oral nicotine delivery product,” was published in the May 2015 edition of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior; the full citation can be found online on NCBI.
While traditional cigarette sales have declined, sales and use of alternatives like e-cigarettes and ONDPs are on the rise. Because they are so new, many of these products are not currently regulated under the same rules as traditional combustible tobacco products. However, there are many open questions about how these products affect users both pharmacologically and behaviorally. The Battelle Public Health Center for Tobacco Research has been at the forefront of research to help consumers, policy makers and regulators better understand these new forms of nicotine delivery.
Verve is currently undergoing market testing in Virginia, and may soon be available to nicotine users nationwide. The tobacco-derived nicotine product is available in four flavors in both chewable and lozenge forms. They are marketed as bridge products to help smokers reduce cravings when they are in situations in which they cannot smoke.
The study, internally funded by Battelle, measured the impact of Verve nicotine discs on plasma nicotine levels, heart rate and craving suppression. Battelle researchers determined that the product produced measureable increases in both plasma nicotine levels and heart rate similar to those produced by other ONDPs but smaller than effects seen with cigarettes. Participants reported a significant reduction in cigarette craving and moderate product satisfaction. CDC researchers performed analysis on the Verve discs both before and after use to determine the amount of nicotine liberated by chewing the product.
Additional studies will be needed to fully understand the impact of Verve and other ONDPs. In addition to further pharmacological studies, more research is needed to understand how these products impact user attitudes and behaviors. Can use of these products assist with smoking cessation, or will their ease of use and availability reduce incentives for users to wean themselves off combustible tobacco products? Do heavily flavored ONDPs act as a “gateway” to nicotine dependence for youth who might not start smoking otherwise? And what are the long-term health implications of these emerging products and associated user behaviors? As the market for nicotine products continues to evolve, researchers at Battelle will continue to search for answers.