A group of international respiratory societies has banned researchers associated with tobacco companies from publishing papers in their journals following Philip Morris International’s acquisition of the U.K.-based pharmaceutical firm Vectura, reports Nature. The measure comes on top of the groups’ decade-long publishing ban on researchers directly funded by tobacco companies.
In a joint statement, the groups describe PMI’s purchase of Vectura as “highly unethical and inappropriate.”
Scientists at Vectura produce drugs that treat asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including some smoking-related respiratory illnesses. “That is the ultimate conflict of interest,” said Gregory Downey, a pulmonologist at the University of Colorado Denver and president-elect of the American Thoracic Society, which co-signed the statement.
“The issue is that ‘Big Tobacco’ could use, and will use, this technology not only to potentially enhance delivery of tobacco-containing substances and nicotine devices but to addict more people.”
Moira Gilchrist, vice president of strategic and scientific communications at PMI in Lausanne, Switzerland, says the idea that the company would use Vectura’s technology in this way is “false and without basis.”
“We openly welcome and encourage legitimate critique and debate about our business transformation, but when this morphs into actively ostracizing scientists and attempting to prevent the prescribing of proven medicines for patients, we should pause and think of the implications,” Gilchrist adds.
Signatories of the statement include The European Respiratory Society, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, Asian Pacific Society of Respirology, Asociacion Latino Americana De Torax, and the Global Initiative for Asthma.