Voke on the back burner

    Kingsley Wheaton

    British American Tobacco has terminated a supplier agreement for its long-delayed Voke nicotine inhaler, according to a story by Saabira Chaudhuri for Dow Jones Newswires.

    BAT in 2014 received a medicinal license for Voke from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, marking the first time a product from a major tobacco company had been licensed by a Western government.

    Voke isn’t an electronic cigarette. It doesn’t heat liquid, use a battery or create vapor.

    The product, meant to be sold as a cigarette-sized stick in a box containing 20 nicotine refills, was billed as a safer alternative to cigarettes – in line with nicotine gum or patches – and one that could be prescribed by doctors.

    BAT, which licensed distribution rights for Voke from closely held patent developer Kind Consumer, had said it expected the product to be launched in the UK by the end of 2015.

    But on Tuesday, drug-delivery-device maker Consort Medical said BAT was terminating its supply deal for Voke, effective immediately, which was a contractual right if the product hadn’t been launched commercially by the end of 2016.

    Consort said the companies remained in ‘constructive dialogue’ about the future of Voke.

    Chaudhuri said a BAT spokeswoman had declined to comment on whether the deal’s termination meant Voke was being permanently shelved, and Kind Consumer also declined to comment.

    In an interview in December, Kingsley Wheaton, BAT’s head of next-generation products, described Voke as “a very complex and challenging product to miniaturize at speed” and said the company was “still working through the many manufacturing challenges of Voke”.

    In a press release issued today, Kingsley said BAT would be prioritizing and focusing on the vapor and tobacco-heating consumer segments within its next-generation product portfolio, with its Vype and Glo brands.