U.K. to Scrutinize PMI’s Vectura Purchase

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    U.K. Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng has asked officials to monitor Philip Morris International’s proposed takeover of drugmaker Vectura Group, reports The Times.

    PMI agreed on Friday to buy Vectura for £1.05 billion ($1.45 billion), giving the U.S. firm access to the British drugmaker’s respiratory ailment treatments and inhaling device technology.

    The deal sparked outrage from anti-smoking groups, including Cancer Research U.K. and Action on Smoking and Health.

    Kwarteng has asked officials to find out what plans PMI has for FTSE 250-listed Vectura. The British government is reportedly uncomfortable that a cigarette company would seek to profit from conditions such as asthma and lung disease.

    Jon Ashworth, Labour’s health spokesman, and Ed Miliband, the Labour business spokesman, wrote to Kwarteng over the weekend, urging the government, under the Enterprise Act 2002, to intervene “to mitigate the effects of public health emergencies.”

    Vectura is one of the U.K.’s leading respiratory disease companies.

    It has been targeted by Philip Morris as the company tries to diversify its business away from harmful tobacco products.