The European Respiratory Society (ERS) joins health experts, charities, and patient representative groups in urging the UK government to intervene in the takeover of the pharmaceutical company Vectura by the tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI). In a letter sent to Jo Churchill, UK Public Health Minister, experts highlight the serious concerns surrounding the deal, which would put the world’s largest tobacco company in control of a producer of medicines that are used to treat tobacco-related diseases.
The letter is sent by Asthma UK/British Lung Foundation in response to the announcement that Vectura shareholders have approved the sale to Philip Morris International. It is co-signed by ERS, the European Lung Foundation, and other organisations representing medical professionals and lung disease patients.
Prof. Jonathan Grigg, Chair of the ERS Tobacco Control Committee, said: “There is great concern among the healthcare community about the takeover of Vectura by the tobacco company Philip Morris International. Philip Morris International has a well-evidenced history of undermining tobacco control policies for its own financial gain, of running marketing campaigns aimed at children, and of manipulating research to cast doubt on the harms caused by tobacco product use.
“By contrast, Vectura is a producer of inhalation technologies that treat and improve the quality of life of people with debilitating conditions that can be caused or worsened by tobacco. It’s clear that this takeover is not suitable, ethical, or in the best public interest. A tobacco company cannot be allowed to profit from the medicines used to treat the illnesses that its products cause.”
ERS and our partners have campaigned strongly against the takeover and continue to urge the UK government to take seriously the concerns raised by the healthcare community. We call on regulators to intervene in this highly unethical deal in the interest of protecting public health.