Concern over acquisition of inhaler company by tobacco giant Philip Morris International

23, Sep 2021 News

The members of the UKCPA Respiratory Committee are all deeply disappointed and concerned by the Philip Morris International (PMI) takeover of Vectura, an inhaler company who have contributed to the development of products that are used extensively by people with COPD and asthma.

It is deeply disturbing and perverse that PMI, a company that profits from the tobacco industry, should seek to profit from the treatment of smoking-related lung diseases that their products cause. We believe that any companies associated with the tobacco industry categorically have no place in healthcare, especially within respiratory specialties.

We have joined with a number of organisations to co-sign a letter to the UK Public Health Minister Jo Churchill to highlight our concerns about this takeover, and in particular that PMI may seek to use this to legitimise the participation of the tobacco industry in health debates.

There are a number of pharmaceutical manufacturers who have links to Vectura, varying from the design and development of inhaler devices, to the licensing of patented formulation science for use in inhaler devices.

Many healthcare professionals are likely to avoid prescribing some inhalers to prevent profits from filtering down to the tobacco industry. We believe that patients should be informed of this new association, and be empowered to make an informed decision on whether they wish to receive treatment with products with links to Vectura. Many patients and their families may also want to avoid inhalers that have links to the tobacco industry that were responsible for causing or exacerbating their lung disease.

It is anticipated that this decision will prompt a review of inhaler acquisition, choice and usage; hence as a committee we would recommend that future prescribing and formulary decisions take into account patient preference and ability to use devices, safety and efficacy, sustainability and environmental impact, as well as links to the tobacco industry.