Big Pharma and Electronic Cigarettes

Pharmaceutical companies and electronic cigarettes

The drug giants might want to enter the E-Cig industry, not just from the earnings perspective (the worldwide market was worth $2bn in 2013 and is increasing year-on-year) but additionally to protect against the unavoidable decrease on NRT Patches and Gum sales as soon as E-Cigs are sooner or later declared harmless and effective for smoking cessation, which is as certain as day and night.

Nevertheless, from a moral perspective, they have kept themselves from getting involved, and instead just indirectly finance several opposition voices, and lobby Government on the legislation issue.

The International Market for NRT products in 2011 was $2.4 billion, of which 80% was spent in The United States and The European Union. The marketplace is mainly manipulated by the pharmaceutical leaders GSK, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer. We are all acquainted with NRT, especially in the form of nicotine patches, offered at retail stores. Nevertheless a sizable share of NRT income originates from State cash, because they finance services like ‘Quitline’ as a way to offer individuals trying to give up smoking with no cost NRT product supplies.

Sales of NRT products, particularly nicotine patches, are now being impacted by the competition of E-Cigarettes, as outlined by research group Euromonitor. One particular producer experienced an 8% drop in 2012 (GSK’s ‘Nicoderm CQ’ patches).

Research of the results of NRT demonstrate variations in the range of 8%-19% (6 month quitters); though the baselines tend to be skewed by the multi-dimensional facets of the cessation systems themselves. For instance, a recent analysis based on a study of NRT success rates on a Quitline service in Ontario, Canada determined that it was so effective that all comprehensive tobacco control programmes ought to buy 5 months of NRT therapy products for every Quitline caller!

Nevertheless, a subsequent evaluation by Dr Michael Siegel, a Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, found that the baseline information was considerably defective and that the delta rate of success of NRT over non-NRT Quitline callers was statistically minor. Additionally, it was documented that 3 of the authors of the Report showed supposed monetary conflicts of interest, having received Speaker Honoraria and/or Consulting Fees from Drug firms, such as Pfizer, the producers of Nicotrol and Nicorette NRT treatments, to name a few.

Make no mistake, Big Pharma is on a battle ground, and is in a position of putting great amounts of money into the war. Quite besides promoting all kinds of resistance, particularly using the evidently credible mouthpiece of the healthcare community, the most effective outcome for the Pharmaceutical Industry would be to have E-Cigs restricted as Medication, and controlled as a consequence. Not only would this seriously affect the growth of E-Cigs by forcing the juice-makers into an FDA test-and-trial regime, but may possibly remove the moral concerns which would then enable the Drug Corporations to penetrate the marketplace.

If E-Cig sales were to be halted, perhaps for many years, while safety tests are concluded, this would re-establish NRT as the single product-based aid for stopping smoking. Given its doubtful success, that would most likely consign countless existing tobacco users, who could otherwise make the transition to E-Cigs, to persistent sickness and an early death.

The FDA and Electronic Cigarettes

To be fair, the Food and drug administration is caught between a rock and a hard place. To their credit, they have, along with the National Institute of Health, lately dedicated around $273 million over the next 5 years to finance 14 Tobacco Centres of Regulatory Science, mainly centered inside University Public Health faculties. The output from these analysis centers will make up the grounds for long term Government regulatory policy on tobacco and ’novel nicotine products’. Given that the cash is not received from business vested interests, here is the best hope at this point that an impartial and public-spirited regulating framework might finally be coming.