The Wall Street Journal reports on Philip Morris’ (and other tobacco manufacturers’) attempts to enter the drug/device industry. While this may generate a collective “wha…?” from most readers, for years Philip Morris has employed engineers and scientists researching the specifics of oral drug delivery (the drug, in this case, was nicotine). It would, however, go too far to call this effort “turning over a new leaf,” as they are basically utilizing technologies already in-house to diversify as cigarette usage decreases.
A team of Philip Morris engineers and scientists is working on a new design for a hand-held inhaler to treat a variety of ailments, including smoking-related lung disease. The product, called Aria, arose from a failed effort to invent a safer cigarette alternative.
The project, prompted by the company’s need to hedge against declines in smoking, has thrust Philip Morris across the battle lines of the war between the tobacco industry and public-health advocates. Longtime foes of the nation’s No. 1 cigarette-maker are suddenly grappling with an unfamiliar question: Should Philip Morris be treated as a force for good?
Other major cigarette companies, including Reynolds American Inc. in Winston-Salem and Japan Tobacco Inc., have also looked toward health care for diversification. Japan Tobacco, which markets Mild Seven and Dorchester cigarettes outside the United States, created a drug-development division nearly 20 years ago. It now has six products in its pipeline, including a cholesterol drug licensed to Switzerland’s Roche Holding AG and an AIDS drug licensed earlier this year to Gilead Sciences Inc.
The American Thoracic Society has already blocked one effort by Philip Morris to promote the device at a medical conference, citing its tobacco ties. Several important medical journals, including Thoracic Society publications, refuse to publish any medical research financed by the tobacco industry.
The article goes on to elaborate on the Chrysalis Technologies, Inc (the PM division involved in inhaler research) and the specifics of their device.
Links to Chrysalis Technologies, Phillip Morris, and The Altria Group, Inc (both PM and Chrysalis’ parent company)