After acquiring healthcare company Vectura, tobacco giant Philip Morris to profit from disease treatment its products create



Cigarettes are the only legal consumer product that kill up to half of their users when consumed exactly as the manufacturer intended. The diseases they cause are costing the Australian healthcare system 136.9 billion Australian dollars one year.


  • Kristin Carson Chahhoud

    Associate Research Professor, University of South Australia

  • Bruce thompson

    Professor and Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology

  • John Upham

    Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Queensland

Philip Morris International (PMI) is one of world leaders in the cigarette supply chain. But with constant drops in cigarette sales over the past 20 years, tobacco companies such as Philip Morris are now try to sell yourself as healthcare companies with visions for a “smoke-free future”.

One of the industry’s first actions was to manufacturing nicotine products other than cigarettes, such as nicotine replacement therapy to help people quit smoking.

In the latest move to diversify its portfolio, Philip Morris acquired UK healthcare company Vectura Group Plc, at the price of over £ 1 billion (AU $ 1.9 billion).

Vectura specializes in manufacturing inhalation products such as commonly used inhalers (or inhalers) and nebulizers that help people with asthma and lung disease breathe.

August 12, Vectura’s board of directors has been announced he “unanimously recommended PMI’s offer” to shareholders, the decision being based on price and access to resources.

The Vectura the board noted:

[…] Wider stakeholders could benefit from PMI’s significant financial resources and its intentions to increase investment in research and development and operate Vectura as a stand-alone business unit that will form the backbone of its inhalation therapy business.

September 15, the agreement has become official. And that’s how the problems start.

Why Vectura?

By acquiring Vectura, Philip Morris profit from treat the very illnesses its products cause, as nebulizers are commonly prescribed to patients with tobacco-related lung disease.

that of Philip Morris interest in the company is to help it generate “[…] at least $ 1 billion in annual net income from Beyond Nicotine sources in 2025 ”. In other words, Philip Morris plans to expand the development of electronic cigarettes and start taking advantage of other inhaling devices.

It is in spite of the existence limited evidence support electronic cigarettes to help people quit smoking, but more and more evidence showing adverse health effects.

If Philip Morris is serious about going “beyond nicotine,” he should stop his aggressive promotion and sale of all tobacco products.

Why is this important?

The consequences of the acquisition of Vectura by Philip Morris are far-reaching, especially for medical and research staff dealing with respiratory diseases. The takeover of Philip Morris will have important implications for the sector.

Many public health organizations, health professional organizations, universities, health professionals and researchers cannot and do not want to work with tobacco companies or their subsidiaries. This complies with the directive of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

This means that researchers who have received Vectura’s support, or used their products to launch the next generation of inhaler therapies, will no longer be able to do so.

There will be conflicts of interest prohibiting them from publishing their results, collaborating on grants for new research and presenting their work at conferences.

This has already started to happen, with pharmaceutical industry conferences such as the Drug Delivery to the Lungs conference ending Vectura’s sponsorship, forcing the company representative to step down from its committee, and forbid them of participation.

Going forward, businesses, healthcare professionals and researchers now inadvertently linked to big tobacco through Vectura may be prevented from fully participating in the medical and scientific community. The European Respiratory Society, for example, excludes participation anyone with ties to the tobacco industry in the past ten years.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will need to determine whether it is appropriate for Australian taxpayers to subsidize inhalers licensed to Vectura or, more frankly, big tobacco.

Many physicians will be looking for alternative devices to prescribe for their patients that do not contribute to the benefits of Philip Morris or Vectura.

Meanwhile, people with lung disease are also likely to be reluctant to use big tobacco related devices.

Corn switching from one inhaler to another has consequences, such as reduced adherence and new side effects, leading to poorer clinical outcomes.

Philip Morris buyout of Vectura also raises concerns can be used buy “a seat at the table” with decision-makers and health professionals, which means that they could have a say in the development of government policies.

The tobacco industry has not changed

The tobacco industry remains one of the the deadliest. And Philip Morris continues to undermine public health messages, as trying to disguise as a health brand.

Yet Philip Morris’s statutory company regulations, which are the standards by which they undertake business, listing evidence-based actions to reduce smoking rates – such as strong health warnings on packages and smoking bans in public places – as “risk factors” for its business.

Philip Morris’ move into the healthcare industry, bolstered by Vectura’s latest acquisition, should be greeted with as much disgust as it is contempt.

Kristin Carson-Chahhoud receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, Cancer Australia, Ministry of Health, The Sax Institute, New South Wales Government, Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, University of South Australia, Australian Association on Gerontology, Cancer Council Victoria, Asthma Australia, University of Adelaide and Australian and New Zealand School of Government. She received honoraria and a travel reimbursement from Pfizer Australia to present her research results at the Pfizer Annual General Meeting and the Ogilvy Smoking Exchange summit. Kristin is a Board Member of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ), Chair of the TSANZ Research Subcommittee and Executive Director of the SA / NT Branch of TSANZ. She is also a member of the Australian Association on Gerontology.

Bruce Thompson is the past president of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand. He has received research funding from the NHMRC and historically speaking honoraria from Chiesi, Mundipharma, GSK and AstraZenca.

John Upham received funding from the National Health & Medical Research Council. He is currently President of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.

/ Courtesy of Conversation. This material is from the original organization / authors and may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors.



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