Philip Morris boss defends plans to buy UK pharma firm Vectura Group

Philip Morris boss defends tobacco giant’s plans to buy British pharma firm Vectura Group

Philip Morris has struck a deal to buy Wiltshire-based Vectura Group – which specialises in respiratory drugs

THE boss of Marlboro cigarettes-maker Philip Morris International has defended his plans to buy British pharmaceutical firm Vectura Group.

The US giant this month struck a deal to buy the Wiltshire-based firm – which specialises in respiratory drugs and is developing a treatment for Covid – for 150p a share or £1bn.

The proposed deal sparked outrage with politicians and anti-smoking charities demanding that a tie-up between big tobacco and a company that specialises in inhaled medicines for conditions such as asthma should be blocked. 

But Philip Morris chief executive Jacek Olczak said the company was committed to changing its image and erasing cigarette use.

‘We can stand still and continue selling cigarettes or we can do something with the science and the technology at least to significantly reduce the harm created by smoking,’ he told CNBC.

‘I believe what we’re doing is absolutely right.

‘Nothing and nobody will stop us in our transformations to leave smoking behind.’

Olczak, 56, added that critics of the Vectura deal ‘are against the transformation of the tobacco industry’.