Mark Benson Asks “Are Large Pharma Groups Influencing Electronic Cigarettes Policies?”
There has been speculation for some time that large pharmaceutical groups are “assisting” health authorities around the world with regards to research into health services and particular health products. This is a very grey area of the health sector although recent developments in the UK seem to suggest there is a potential opportunity for lobby groups and large pharmaceutical companies to influence future policy changes.
A recent report by “The Independent” newspaper in the UK suggested that some areas of NHS England were sporadically utilising the services of specialist healthcare advisers some of whom have links to lobbyists and large pharmaceutical companies. While these claims have been made on numerous occasions in years gone by, just recently NHS England confirmed that an outside group called the “Specialised Healthcare Alliance” had assisted in putting together a five-year strategy report regarding the commissioning of £12 billion of future services.
Do large pharmaceutical companies have influence?
While there is no doubt that the electronic cigarettes industry has come up against some well-financed and influential companies and associations, this report by “The Independent” takes the alleged influence of pharmaceutical companies to a whole new level. The report which we refer to above included feedback and input from the aforementioned “Specialised Healthcare Alliance” although there is no insinuation that the alliance was in any way dictating policy. However, the ongoing struggles of the electronic cigarette industry may well come under a similar umbrella?
There have been accusations and rumours regarding the close relations between pharmaceutical companies, tobacco groups and government/health authorities around the world although to date nothing inappropriate has been proven. It will be interesting to see how the electronic cigarette industry fairs in the short to medium term and indeed whether the introduction of new regulations, very much against the public perception of electronic cigarettes, is forced through.
Money talks in the health industry
There has always been a relatively close working relationship between large pharmaceutical companies, where they often invest billions upon billions of dollars, and national health authorities around the world. If we take a step back, there are two sides to this coin, there needs to be a working relationship to get the best for all parties although whether this is at the expense of competition or new products/services is a point of debate.
There have been reports in years gone by suggesting that the UK NHS would be unable to operate from a financial standpoint without the input of tobacco taxes. While this has been refuted time and time again by the authorities it is interesting to see the tens of thousands of pounds which UK tobacco cigarette smokers pay out in taxes during a lifetime, set against their healthcare needs.
Whether or not the ongoing reduction in tobacco taxes is in some way influencing short-term government and regulator policies with regards to electronic cigarettes is an interesting subject. There will always be suspicion surrounding the close relationship between the health industry and large pharmaceutical companies but are they really able to influence agendas going forward?
Mark Benson is a contributing author for Spinfuel eMagazine. His continuing columns will bring a level headed approach to the dynamics involved in realizing a positive future for the electronic cigarettes industry. For more information on electronic cigarettes and the various products available please visit the OKCigs website.