Philip Morris International has paused a program that would have paid Australian pharmacists AUD275 ($190.24) when ordering Veev vapes, according to The Guardian.
The scheme, first reported by News Corp., would have seen pharmacists receive AUD5 every time they dispense a new VEEV script, AUD10 for educating a new patient about the device, and AUD5 for referring patients to a doctor to obtain a prescription. Pharmacists would also receive a AUD275 payment for placing an initial stock order.
Nicotine-containing vapor products are available only with a doctor’s prescription in Australia.
The cash-for-vapes program caused an uproar among public health advocates.
Emily Banks, a professor at Australian National University National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, said the tobacco industry wanted to piggyback off the trust Australians place in the healthcare system.
“Big tobacco wants a piece of that—they want some of the trust to rub off. It’s beyond appalling.”
“Big tobacco’s attempt at financial kickbacks shows absolute contempt for pharmacists,” said a spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. “Multinational tobacco companies have no place in health care.”
In a statement, PMI defended the program, saying since 2021 nicotine vaping products had been available in Australian pharmacies as a prescription-only medicine for smoking cessation.
“Several manufacturers, including PMI, have been providing nicotine vaping products to Australian pharmacies via the stringent regulatory regime. Industry data indicates that across multiple manufacturers products are now available in over 2,000 pharmacies nationwide,” the statement said.