Sunday, February 26, 2012

The sweet deal between Big Pharma and Big Tobacco

The 1999 article below was an obvious attempt at making "Big Tobacco" seem to be the bad guy pushing around "innocent" pharmaceutical companies, but it takes on new meaning when considering the recent actions taken against electronic cigarettes and other smoke-free alternatives by groups receiving massive amounts of funding from Big Pharma, such as the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids. 
"The result is thousands of smokers cycling between competing forms of nicotine, "turning to a patch, gum or pill for a month" as a result of a New Year's resolution, "then relapsing to a cigarette product," said Gregory N. Connolly of the Massachusetts tobacco control program. "You get this sort of strange, symbiotic relationship between the tobacco industry and the drug companies where everybody makes money." 

Anyone "poo-pooing" the claims that Big Pharma would use it's financial influence over public health organizations to quietly lobby for policies, which ensure future profits, as "silly conspiracy theories" may change their mind after reading this must-read article. Apparently, the drug companies learned from the best.

Consider, too, the implications that the public health groups knew back in 1999 that the products they shill today as "safe and effective" already had studies which showed that "
on any single attempt people who try quitting cold turkey succeed about 3% of the time, whereas success with gum or patches rises to 7% or 8%." This translates to a 92% - 93% failure rate and a relapse back to smoking. It's interesting that this fact has only recently been widely reported in the media (based upon "new" studies) and as Big Pharma lobbies the FDA to market it's NRT products for long-term use to complete with the innovative smoke-free products    now gaining a market share of former smokers.

(Note: Once clicking the link below, the full article is 3 pages long.)

Big Tobacco Keeps Thumb on Makers of Stop-Smoking Aids

Memos show cigarette firms pressured manufacturers of nicotine gums and patches to mute their message.
Cigarette makers and the drug firms that market nicotine gum and patches would seem to be natural enemies, at war in a multibillion-dollar market of people hooked on nicotine.

Yet a peaceful coexistence has reigned between them since nicotine replacement products were introduced in the 1980s to help smokers kick the habit.

The quit-smoking aids are widely advertised, and in recent years have joined such remedies as Advil, Tums and Robitussin on a list of the country's top-selling over-the-counter medicines. Yet they are promoted in a manner certain to minimize conflict with cigarette manufacturers.

Veterans of the smoking wars think they know why.

 For at least a decade, Philip Morris sought to intimidate drug firms marketing the stop-smoking products, using the threat of economic reprisals to make them tone down their ads and refrain from supporting the anti-smoking cause, according to once-secret documents from the world's biggest cigarette maker. Philip Morris officials declined interview requests.

 R.J. Reynolds, the second biggest U.S. tobacco company, also was engaged in some of the efforts, documents and interviews show.

 Pressure tactics were exerted against at least two major drug firms between 1982 and 1992, although they may have continued beyond that date. A non-confrontational marketing approach for the nicotine products remains in use today.

 Moreover, within the last three years, a major worldwide supplier of cigarette filters to the tobacco industry [GlaxoSmithKline] has become a power in the gum and patch business, thus playing in both arenas of the nicotine market.

 Drug firms say their ads are not intended to appease the tobacco industry, but rather aim for the best approach to boosting sales. Even so, their marketing message is the same one that cigarette makers sought to dictate in the past by threatening to cancel supply contracts with the drug firms' corporate parents, internal memos show.

 Rather than attack cigarettes directly or implore all smokers to quit, their ads target the narrow band of smokers who are currently trying to quit--offering a product that can help ease their nicotine cravings.

Companies Muffle Anti-Smoking Message

The involvement of drug firms in anti-smoking politics has been limited as well. Since gaining federal approval in 1996 for over-the-counter sales, patch and gum marketers have financially supported the American Cancer Society and American Lung Assn. in exchange for using their logos in ads. But to the disappointment of tobacco foes, they have chosen not to involve themselves directly in political fights--such as by lobbying for higher tobacco taxes that would help their business by making quitting more attractive.

Considering the history of tobacco industry pressure, "I think there's no question that there's still a residual influence," said Gregory N. Connolly, director of tobacco control for Massachusetts.

Drug firms seem determined "not to get into a public war" with cigarette makers, when "what the public needs is a war between the tobacco industry and the drug industry," Connolly said.

"There are a lot of people who hoped that when they [drug companies] got into the 'quit' market, they would be more aggressively involved in a lot of activities to reduce tobacco use," said Matt Myers, general counsel for the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids.

ome observers have even suggested there is a symbiotic relationship between drug and tobacco firms as millions of would-be quitters cycle between buying cigarettes and gum or patches in a long-term struggle against nicotine addiction.
[Read More


  1. Pharma depends on cigarette sales because without them, there would be no cash cow.

    NRT sales are said to be a billion-dollar global market. However, sales of chemotherapy drugs, COPD drugs, cardiac disease drugs, vascular drugs, and similar therapies for sick smokers are probably at least ten times the scale of the NRT market.

    It is probably safe to say that the pharmaceutical industry will lose $5 billion just in the US when e-cigarettes are widely used. With hardly anyone buying NRTs and 50% less people getting sick and dying, the situation will be catastrophic for pharma. No wonder they are doing everything possible to stop e-cigs.

    1. This is true unfortunately.

    2. "With hardly anyone buying NRTs and 50% less people getting sick and dying, the situation will be catastrophic for pharma. No wonder they are doing everything possible to stop e-cigs."

      This is a flawed claim that many vapers have put forward. However it is based on hope - there is no evidence that smoking cessation, even at huge rates will significantly reduce disease or death. You may find that strange, but that is what 40 years of costly human experiments have shown - the random controlled trials.

      Showing that smoking causes disease in epidemiologic studies is much, much easier than showing that smoking cessation leads to less disease in random trials. In fact is has been impossible:

  2. I just stopped Tobacco use the same day I bought an E-Cigatette, the Tobacco missed the boat.Yhey could have done the very same thing thirty years or more ago.Technology was there. So I am enjoying being able to watch them die a slow death instead of me.Many people died a slow agonizing death because of them,this is sweet revenge. I hope the corporate level ends up in a soup line.When I pass them in the street I spit at their shoes and laugh.Goodbye you bastards.Your time has come to die into history.I get to watch instead of dieing as I was because of your greed. Good Freaking bye parasites...

  3. Great read - I didn't realise that GSK was involved in the manufacture of cigarette filters! The combination makes a lot of sense - I wonder how aware the big-pharm funded anti smokers are of the symbiosis.

  4. Interesting point on the symbiotic relationship between drug and tobacco firms.. Hopefully e-cigarettes will be given a fair chance. Politics shouldn't get in the way of the e-cigarette's potential to save smokers' lives.

  5. I found this page when I had an "ah-ha" moment that I had never considered, followed by a search to see if anyone else has questioned this... To me, it's just fact that Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. are making ALL of their major decisions based on the dollar bill$ with zero interest in humanity. Western medicine is NOT concerned with health, but with what products will make the most money, asking questions at board meetings like, "How can we keep them coming back after taking [insert medicine] to relieve [insert symptom (notice not insert illness)]?" when they should be asking, "How can we heal [insert illness]?" My moment of realization occurred when I realized that Tobacco was a medicine for thousands of years before illuminati got their hands into it... go read about it's history and all the healing properties... Nobody can convince me that the ancients were wrong and the global elite are telling the truth. Smoking any herb pumped full of chemicals will cause diseases. Think American Spirits might be good for you then? Nope... Research who owns that company - It's not a tribe - and then check into what goes into the paper they roll with...
    I'm going to order some Native style blended tobacco and check that shit out, because I'm not gonna let their programming scare me into giving up something I enjoy out of fear of an illusion. Namaste all... Keep going down the rabbit hole... You must explore wonderland before you can get home to Dila.

  6. I found this interesting read a few days ago - a damning report on pharma; their power, influence and filthy tricks. I knew they enabled each other but I wasn't aware either about pharma supplying cigarette filters. On top of their joint lobbying against ecigs, Big T
    pushing for med regs for their ecigs, aided by pharma, would guarantee them ousting the original small vendors selling superior 2nd & 3rd generation devices, giving them the monopoly, with a low nic level to appease pharma and allow them to compete against a product that we don't want. I know of one pharma ecig
    venture but I strongly suspect more are to follow. They have to diversify; NRT as we know it is dead in the water. Therefore the smoke quit cycle would continue unimpeded by the current threat that's seriously shaken up their little club. I also very much doubt that governments are willing to lose billions in tobacco taxes every year either, which is why they'll happily roll over and sell vapers, smokers and hundreds of businesses down the river, despite the efforts of a few more honest and supportive ministers. Vapers will go to court if necessary but we really shouldn't have to, when 6 courts have set a precedent and our opponents would be using our own tax payments against us. It would be a criminal waste.

    They don't give a damn about health and the fact that pharma and health departments fund people like Glantz and McKee, for instance, is the reason they've all been willing to make utter fools of themselves over ecigs; their strings are being pulled. No coincidence that Glaxo and McKee both had articles out, a day apart, berating ecigs when Glaxo donated £255,000 to McKee's LSHTM last year and NIHR and DofH gave £10 million last autumn. All the public health people trot out exactly the same word for word propaganda, all of which has been debunked; they're all quoting from the same lying pharma script. It's stinking corruption at huge expense to the public's health, purposeful sabotage of perfectly legal and safe products, businesses and jobs. I'm so utterly furiously, livid, I don't know how to voice it in polite terms, but you can guess the gist.

    1. Here is a fine little interview with the former CEO of Pfizer, showing how Big Pharma companies make guys like Glantz and Martin McKee beholden to them:


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