Despite questions from the healthcare community, Vectura, a British company that makes medical inhalers, has accepted Philip Morris 1.1 billion pound takeover offer.
Vectura said late Thursday that its board of directors unanimously recommended that shareholders respond favorably to Philip Morris’ proposal.
Vectura shares are valued at 1.1 billion pounds by the American group, which is offering 165 pence per share. It had raised its price after offering 150 pence at the beginning of July.
Philip Morris prevailed over the American investment fund Carlyle whose offer was lower, at 155 pence.
In addition, the British company believes that it can benefit from Philip Morris’ significant financial resources to increase its investment in research and development.
Even though its inhalers are meant to treat diseases related to smoking, it has not responded to the concerns of associations and health professionals in the United Kingdom.
The leaders of Asthma UK, which fights against asthma, and the British Lung Foundation, which fights lung diseases, declared that Philip Morris’ offer was “unacceptable” before the announcement of Vectura on Thursday.
Sarah Woolnough, president of Asthma UK, says the takeover would allow “a company that has profited from the ravages of tobacco to make even more money treating the diseases it has caused”.
American health associations such as the American Lung Association and the American Thoracic Society have also condemned the deal.
Together with the opposition Labour Party in the UK, these associations are asking the government to ban the transaction.
By acquiring the British company, Philip Morris intends to expand outside of tobacco, which is clearly losing ground, and to focus on health and well-being.
With the British biotech Inspira, Vectura is also developing an inhalation treatment for Covid-19.
Philip Morris wants to generate at least $1 billion in sales in nicotine-free products by 2025 and has identified medicine inhalers as a priority.
Executives said tobacco sales could end within “10 to 15 years” in countries such as Japan and the United Kingdom.
The group does not predict the end of tobacco, but promotes alternatives that are potentially less harmful to health, such as smoking tobacco, which can be consumed without combustion or paper, unlike traditional cigarettes.