The Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Claire Anderson has urged the government to block a £1.1 billion takeover of UK respiratory drug maker Vectura by tobacco giant Philip Morris International.
Charities and health experts have expressed deep ethical concerns over the deal that Vectura’s board unanimously urged its shareholders to accept last week. Shareholders are expected to vote on the deal on August 24.
There has been a strong backlash from the health industry in last few days, with over 20 charities, experts and doctors writing to Vectura’s board in an attempt to persuade them to turn down a bid that could see a large tobacco enterprise running a company that manufactures devices that treat smoking-related conditions.
Sarah Woolnough, the chief executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said it was “totally absurd” that Philip Morris “could make more money from providing treatments to the very people they have made ill in the first place.”
The COPD Foundation said: “A company that profits from the sale of tobacco products that cause COPD should not profit from the sale of products that treat COPD.”
Writing to the health minister Lord Bethell, Ms Anderson said the RPS was “deeply concerned about the proposed takeover.”
“This takeover not only raises ethical concerns that a company whose tobacco products harm the public may later profit from providing a treatment, but also creates an ethical dilemma for healthcare professionals,” she said.
“We strongly urge the Government to oppose this takeover to protect the public and healthcare professionals.”
Philip Morris has pledged to play its part in delivering a smoke-free future although 75 per cent of its revenue is made through cigarette sales.