USA panel rejects Philip Morris claim iQOS reduces disease risk

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The product is already available in 29 countries, according to Philip Morris.

An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave a mixed review for a new electronic tobacco device. It requires FDA approval to sell iQOS in the U.S.

But the nine-member panel yesterday decided there isn't enough proof this gizmo is a safer way to ingest tobacco and nicotine.

They found that heat-not-burn Google searches in Japan spiked by more than 1,400 percent in 2015, when the devices were first released in that country, and by almost 3,000 percent between 2015 and 2017. They voted unanimously, with one abstention, that the studies did not show that the device reduces deadly diseases tied to smoking.

"We share the same goals: To improve public health and urgently advocate for more funding and better science to help millions of smokers reduce their risk of death and disease", Yach said in a statement.

Seventeen public health schools in the USA and Canada pledged Thursday to refuse research money from a new anti-smoking group funded by the tobacco industry. The panel rejected by five votes to four that iQOS presents less risk of harm than continuing to smoke cigarettes.

The panel's discussion comes amid an intense debate over the potential risks and benefits associated with e-cigarettes.

These devices are different than e-cigarettes, in that instead of heating a nicotine-infused liquid, they warm up tobacco to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, producing an inhalable aerosol.

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If cleared, iQOS would be sold in the United States by Philip Morris' partner Altria Group.

Unlike the United Kingdom and most other countries, the US government has broad authority to regulate a number of aspects of the tobacco industry, including new products. The FDA is expected to act on the marketing application early this year; it doesn't have a timeline for making a decision on the relative risk of iQos. "So selling IQOS in the USA isn't going to solve the problem".

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health joined 16 other schools of public health across the US and Canada today in stating that it will refuse research funding from an anti-smoking group backed by tobacco industry giant Philip Morris. It claims 72 percent of IQOS users quit smoking, and that the device has taken over one-tenth of Japan's tobacco market. An advisory panel at the FDA reviewed the information that Philip Morris had submitted. But Philip Morris and its US partner, Altria, need the permission of the Food and Drug Administration to sell it in the U.S. The company has produced three products, each with Marlboro branding, with two having menthol flavoring.

That trend reflects an even greater interest than that seen when e-cigarettes were first introduced in the Japanese market, the study authors said.

The panel's opinion is nonbinding and the FDA will make a final decision in coming months on the device and how it could be marketed. The figure does not include smokers who might use iQOS in addition to cigarettes. Despite decades of tax hikes, smoking bans and campaigns, about 15 percent of US adults smoke.

Some panellists were concerned that not all the harmful or potentially harmful chemicals in iQOS were lower than in cigarettes. The same law allows the agency to scientifically review and permit sales of new products shown to be less risky than what's now available.

Its most notable rejection came in 2015, when it turned down Swedish Match's application to be allowed to advertise snus, little pouches of moist tobacco that are placed beneath the user's upper lip, as less harmful than smoking. In company studies, less than 20 percent of USA users switched completely to iQOS over six weeks.

IQOS is said to come somewhere between trendy vaping products and traditional cigarettes on the scale of harm. While cigarettes remain enormously profitable the global market continues to contract amid worldwide campaigns to discourage smoking.