Seeing what is behind the smokescreen: A systematic review of methodological aspects of smoking interaction studies over the last three decades and implications for future clinical trials

Clin Transl Sci. 2023 May;16(5):742-758


Smoking drug interaction studies represent a common approach for the clinical investigation of CYP1A2 induction. Despite this important role, they remain an “orphan topic” in the existing regulatory framework of drug interaction studies, and important methodological aspects remain unaddressed. The University of Washington Drug Interaction Database (DIDB) was used to systematically review the published literature on dedicated smoking pharmacokinetic interaction studies in healthy subjects (1990 to 2021, inclusive). Various methodological aspects of identified studies were reviewed. A total of 51 studies met all inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. Our review revealed that methods applied in smoking interaction studies are heterogeneous and often fall short of established methodological standards of other interaction trials. Methodological deficiencies included incomplete description of study populations, poor definition and lack of objective confirmation of smoker and nonsmoker characteristics, under-representation of female subjects, small sample sizes, frequent lack of statistical sample size planning, frequent lack of use of existing markers of nicotine exposure and CYP1A2 activity measurements, and frequent lack of control of extrinsic CYP1A2 inducing or inhibiting factors. The frequent quality issues in the assessment and reporting of smoking interaction trials identified in this review call for a concerted effort in this area, if the results of these studies are meant to be followed by actionable decisions on dose optimization, when needed, for the effects of smoking on CYP1A2 victim drugs in smokers.