LISTEN – FROM SELLING DRUGS TO SELLING MEDICINE –
Sept. 2, 2010 – All cigarette companies know the industry that established their fortunes is fading, as smoking rates decline worldwide. Most are invested in vaping and e-cigarettes. But no Big Tobacco firm has been as aggressive as Philip Morris International in seeking out entirely new ways of making money.
The tobacco giant’s new goal has led to a buying spree of drug-delivery firms in recent weeks — stirring up sharp criticism and skepticism from doctors, scientists and health officials who distrust the tobacco industry, which for decades denied smoking was dangerous.
The acquisitions are especially galling, scientists and doctors say, because some of the target companies make treatments for smoking-related ailments.
“It’s like someone breaking your knees and then selling you the crutches,” said Tal-Singer, who declined the offer to work with the company. In July, Philip Morris International snapped up the Danish firm Fertin Pharma, which makes medicinal chewing gum. That was followed by U.S. drug company OtiTopic, which is developing an aerosolized drug to treat heart attacks. Philip Morris also recently unveiled plans to pay $1.4 billion for the British drug firm Vectura, a major developer of inhaled treatments for COPD and other respiratory ailments, including a potential covid-19 treatment.
Vectura’s board voted in August to recommend Philip Morris International’s bid to shareholders over a competing, slightly lower offer from U.S. private equity firm the Carlyle Group. Vectura shareholders will decide on the takeover bid by the middle of September. A Vectura spokesman declined to comment on the potential deal.