Several public health and tobacco control groups are upset that Philip Morris International would even consider purchasing a pharmaceutical maker that develops inhaled treatments for respiratory diseases, including the COVID-19 infection.

NEW YORK CITY — Philip Morris International (PMI) announced recently that it would pursue purchasing a company specializing in the development of inhaled pharmaceutical treatments for respiratory diseases based in the United Kingdom.

The company, Vectura Group plc (based in Chippenham, Wiltshire, in England), agreed to the acquisition, which is valued at between $1 billion and $1.5 billion. PMI announced the intent to purchase Vectura in a press release indicating that it’s a part of its so-called Beyond Nicotine strategy and its move away from combustible cigarettes.

“The acquisition of Vectura, following the recently announced agreement to acquire Fertin Pharma, will position us to accelerate this journey by expanding our capabilities in innovative inhaled and oral product formulations in order to deliver long-term growth and returns,” said Jacek Olczak, PMI’s chief executive officer, in the mentioned press release.

For reference, Vaping Post reported on the acquisition of Fertin Pharma. Fertin develops pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products based on proprietary “oral and intra-oral delivery systems.” Fertin develops pills, lozenges, capsules, powders, and pouches.

He added: “The market for inhaled therapeutics is large and growing rapidly, with significant potential for expansion into new application areas. PMI has the commitment to science and the financial resources to empower Vectura’s skilled team to execute on an ambitious long-term vision. Together, PMI and Vectura can lead this global category, bringing benefits to patients, to consumers, to public health, and to society-at-large.”

Groups like the American Lung Association and the American Thoracic Society are concerned that the acquisition will undo years of work at Vectura Group. American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer and American Thoracic Society President Lynn Schnapp jointly released this statement about PMI’s attempt to purchase Vectura:

“The announcement that Philip Morris International (PMI) wants to acquire an inhaled medicine company is the latest reprehensible choice from a company that has profited from addicting users to its deadly products,” both said. “We are deeply concerned that PMI will use the inhalation services technologies developed by Vectura to make their tobacco products more addictive. We are also deeply troubled that this company could further profit from the disease their products have caused by now selling therapies to the same people who were sickened by smoking PMI cigarettes.”

“The American Lung Association and American Thoracic Society are disappointed that the board of Vectura, a maker of essential medical products, has approved this sale. We urge the shareholders of Vectura to reject the proposed sale. Failing share holder action, we urge the British government to use its oversight authority to intervene and stop the sale.”

Amid the outbreak of controversy, members of Parliament are likely to scrutinize the acquisition between PMI and Vectura. London Times reports that politicians in Parliament, including shadow secretaries dealing with business and biotechnology industry regulations, will further investigate the intentions behind the proposed buyout.

Philip Morris International Might Buy A Nicotine Gum Maker

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Michael McGrady is a columnist for Vaping Post's English edition. He is a critically acclaimed journalist with awards and recognition from across the industry. He was a finalist for ECigClick's annual vape awards in 2019 and 2020, a KAC Tobacco Harm Reduction Scholarship Fellow in 2019, among other honours. He is also the host of Vaping Weekly, the Post's podcast. All articles express his own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the Editor's view.