Marlboro Maker Takes Over UK Asthma Inhaler Maker Vectura For $1.1B

Cigarette giant Philip Morris International has taken control of Vectura, a UK firm that makes medicine and, of all things, devices to treat respiratory illnesses, after a US$1.1 billion bid. PMI, which manufactures Marlboro and Parliament brand cigarettes, said in a statement on Thursday, September 16, that roughly 75% of Vectura’s shareholders had tendered their support for the deal. 

“We are very excited about the role Vectura will play in our Beyond Nicotine strategy,” Jacek Olczak, PMI’s CEO, said. The takeover is part of the cigarette group’s long term strategy to become a “broader healthcare and wellness” company with “smoke-free” products.

Nevertheless, the deal has raised hackles at health groups like the British Lung Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and Asthma UK. Reps have questioned whether it is ethical for a tobacco company to own a company that looks to treat the diseases associated with smoking cigarettes, saying it creates “perverse incentives.” 

The two organizations sent a letter of protest to the British government, co-signed by 35 medical professionals and charities. Olczak told The Telegraph last month that critics were “not interested in progress” and simply “settling old scores” with his industry.

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