Profits Down for Big Pharma As Smokers Look to Ecigs Profits Down for Big Pharma As Smokers Look to Ecigs

Ten years ago, smokers relied mostly on nicotine replacement therapies like patches and gums when they wanted to kick the habit. But that has all changed thanks to electronic cigarettes. As the ecig market continues to grow by leaps and bounds, Big Pharma is feeling the heat with profits falling every month. GlaxoSmithKline representative Andrew Witty recently told Reuters that ecigs had really caused the drug company to reconsider its approach to smoking cessation.

“Of course, it’s definitely taken a bit of our market, no question at all – but there’s a lot of competition in that space anyway,” he said. Witty said GSK had even considered developing their own version of an electronic cigarette to compete in the growing market, but eventually they decided to wait it out. “We’ve decided we’re not going to play. We’ve consciously had a think about it but we’re not going to play,” he said.

Over the past two years, there has been a plethora of research about how ecigs impact smoking cessation and it’s clear that vaping works. In fact, a recent study revealed that smokers are more likely to successfully kick the cigarette habit by using ecigs than if they relied on cold turkey methods or traditional nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine patches. Smokers like using ecigs as an alternative because they offer nicotine replacement in a familiar form. They can still enjoy the act of smoking by inhaling a nicotine vapor, but the tobacco and tar is eliminated to drastically reduce health risks.

Even with an abundance of evidence to suggest that ecigs are the best avenue for smokers that want to quit, Witty said GlaxoSmithKline is not ready to concede just yet. They will continue offering nicotine gum, patches, and medications in hopes to attract smokers that are not sold on the ecig concept. He believes ecigs are “just too controversial” at this point and it’s too early for Big Pharma to jump in the ecig market.

We will have to watch to see if GSK will change their position in the future. Would it be a smart move for Big Pharma to launch their own line of electronic cigarettes? Would this ultimately help or hurt the growing ecigarette industry?


Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.