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Vectura removed from DDL Conference amid PMI deal

Published on 21/09/21 at 08:13am
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Inhaler and medical device maker Vectura has been removed from pharma conferences Formulation and Delivery UK and Drug Delivery to the Lungs (DDL) following the company’s £1.1 billion takeover by tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI). 

In a memo seen by The Times, DDL chairman, Gary Pitcairn, said: “The primary purpose of DDL is to support the science behind pulmonary delivery of drugs to treat respiratory diseases and we do not wish to be associated with PMI and the tobacco industry.”

Vectura Group’s deal to become involved with the tobacco industry is at odds with the products that it designs and produces, which include inhalers for those with COPD and asthma. PMI’s deal to take Vectura over is aimed at improving their ‘smoke-free’ options, but the company stills makes 75% of its revenue from tobacco and cigarette sales. 

Warning signs have been apparent from the moment the potential deal was released to the media. Public health bodies, charities, and clinicians voiced their concerns over the deal, which they warned would impact on Vectura’s work.

The COPD Foundation, European Lung Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Royal College of Physicians, Asthma UK, and more have released statements and a joining of forces in opposition to the deal. 

Last week, in a letter to Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health, and Primary Care, executives, clinicians, and directors, wrote: “There is deep concern within the healthcare community at the sale of Vectura to PMI, the world’s largest tobacco company. As you are well aware and government analyses have shown, tobacco is a uniquely dangerous, addictive consumer products which costs the British economy £14.7 billion each year.

“We think it is clear that this deal is not in the public interest and that it creates perverse incentives for PMI to increase harm through smoking so they might profit again.”

The deal for PMI to acquire Vectura Group has been ongoing for a while, and the tobacco company has now delisted the company from the London Stock Exchange – to allow Vectura to become a private limited company again. 

PMI are a worldwide company, although it doesn’t operate in the US, and was made famous by its Marlboro cigarette, which became the world’s best-selling cigarette brand. It has since branched out into different ventures, and now sees itself as “delivering a smoke-free future”. 

Vectura, headquartered in Chippenham, UK, is a specialist company creating inhalers and inhaled medicines. The decision to ban and cut ties by leading pharmaceutical and healthcare events is certain to have an impact.

Jacek Olczak, CEO of PMI, said last week, “We are very excited about the critical role Vectura will play in our beyond nicotine strategy and look forward to working with Vectura’s scientists.”

The deal for Vectura by PMI was not the only one. Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, also sent a cash offer for the company in August, after months of negotiations on the final price. 

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