Philip Morris considers stake sale as inhaler plans go up in smoke

by Arjun Singh

Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, may be considering selling its stake in Vectura, a respiratory drugs company that it acquired two years ago. This move comes as Philip Morris struggles with its transformation away from the tobacco industry.

Philip Morris International, one of the largest tobacco firms in the world, has been exploring options for Vectura and has reportedly held discussions with Deutsche Bank, according to The Wall Street Journal. This indicates that the company is seriously considering divesting its investment in the pharmaceutical business.

The acquisition of Vectura by Philip Morris International in 2021 was met with controversy and backlash from the public health sector. Vectura, based in Wiltshire, is known for developing inhalers and medicines, particularly those related to smoking-related conditions. Public health bodies, clinicians, and charities formed a coalition and wrote to Vectura’s shareholders and directors, expressing concerns and warning about the association with a tobacco company.

Adding to recent challenges, Philip Morris’s pharmaceutical business has experienced a series of senior departures and setbacks. According to reports in The Times, the company has been facing difficulties, raising questions about its ability to successfully transition away from its tobacco-focused operations.

The potential sale of the stake in Vectura could be seen as a strategic move for Philip Morris International. The company has been investing heavily in research and development to diversify its product portfolio and reduce its reliance on traditional tobacco products. However, this acquisition has faced significant criticism, and the negative perception associated with it could be affecting the company’s overall transformation efforts.

If Philip Morris decides to sell its stake in Vectura, it would not only have an impact on the company’s pharmaceutical business but could also have broader implications for the tobacco industry’s efforts to expand into other sectors. The move could potentially indicate a reevaluation of the strategic direction of Philip Morris International, as it navigates challenges and seeks new avenues for growth.

It remains to be seen how this situation will unfold, but the potential sale of Vectura could mark a significant turning point for both Philip Morris International and the tobacco industry as a whole. As public health concerns continue to grow, tobacco companies face increasing scrutiny and pressure to adapt their business models. This development highlights the complex nature of the tobacco industry’s transition and the obstacles it faces in breaking away from its traditional image.

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