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First licensed e-cig a 'really positive step', says RPS

Ash Soni: Device will become an additional piece in pharmacists' armoury

Licensing the e-Voke device as a medicine makes life easier for pharmacists, says RPS president Ash Soni


The UK medicines watchdog's decision to license an e-cigarette for the first time is a "really positive step", the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) told C+D it licensed the e-Voke device – produced by British American Tobacco – last month because it is a “product of acceptable quality and an effective aid to smoking cessation”.

RPS president Ash Soni told C+D that the device would "simplify" pharmacists' role when helping patients quit smoking, because they would be able to recommend a "safe, clinically recognised" e-cigarette.

The society has always maintained that e-cigarettes should not be sold or advertised in pharmacies until they are licensed as medicines, and Mr Soni said the MHRA's decision added an "additional piece to [pharmacists'] armoury".

"There are claims about how effective [e-cigarettes] are, and now we can help to build the evidence base [as to] whether that's true or not," he told C+D today (December 8).

First "true e-cigarette" licensed

The MHRA said the e-Voke is the first licensed product that "electronically produces a vapour containing nicotine for inhalation", and therefore the first "true e-cigarette" that can be used as a medicine.

The product is not yet available to patients, and manufacturer British American Tobacco told C+D it is “too early to say” when it will enter the market.

The Department of Health (DH) told C+D it wants to see a “wide range of good quality e-cigarettes on the market”, because more than a million people have “completely replaced [tobacco] smoking with e-cigarettes".

The MHRA also said it hopes more e-cigarette manufacturers will submit licence applications in future.

In September, Public Health England announced that this year’s Stoptober campaign would be the first to promote the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.


Would you stock the e-Voke device?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Douglas Hicks, Non healthcare professional

A medicine does not help the patient sitting on the shelf of the pharmacy, it needs to be dispensed and used. The same goes with a licensed e-cigarette, will be of no help to the smoker if not purchased. The key is to make vapour products as attractive as possible to the smoker so they give it a try. If not, then the Pharmacy will only end up carrying slow moving stock, which will help no one. The goal should not be lost, that is to give the smoker a safer alternative to smoking.

Mark Galloway, Pharmacy

There is no doubt in my mind about the health benefits of these devices, when used as part of a programme of withdrawal, but what troubles me is that we may move to a situation where they simply substitute for the tobacco product and we end up with a cohort of the nation simply addicted to the e-versions

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

i trust it does not contain any of the flavouring agents that have just been shown to be harmful. if it is free of these agents anything that stops a patient smoking cancerous tar products is an improvement on them smoking cigarettes ! obviously the existing nrt products that have been in use for years would be better as we have years of safety data on them but if the patient decides they want a vape product we should make it easier for them to get it.

David Dorn, Non healthcare professional

If you are referring to Diacetyl and Acetyl Propionyl, even in the worst case scenarios the amounts that have been found in ecigs are in the order of 10 to 750 times lower than those already found in tobacco cigarettes. Please don't be taken in by alarmist headlines. Every ecig, whether licensed or not, is orders of magnitude less risky to health than a smoked tobacco cigarette. As far as e-Voke is concerned, it's actually a 2010 model M401. And it probably won't hit the market.

bilal hussain, Community pharmacist

Agreed, its a very real possibility. However I'd rather be addicted to ecigs than actual cigs. I just hope someone other than tobacco companies produce these products on a massive scale. Imagine tobacco companies holding the ecig monopoly...

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

Bilal, ALL the big brands in E-Cig world are owned by the big tobacco companies. The original patent for ECigs by the Chinese Pharmacist is now owned by Imperial Tobacco. The margins on E-Cigs are enormous and there are no duties to pay.

David Dorn, Non healthcare professional

You are mistaken. The Big Tobacco slice of the ecig cake amounts to, at most, 20% of the global market. The vast bulk of ecigs currently sold are produced by independents. If, however, you are talking about cigalikes (the kind pharmacies already stock) then yes, you're right. Pharmacies HAVE been selling tobacco company owned product. And the new e-Voke will do nothing to change that. And honestly... The tobacco company owned ecigs are all pretty much as good as useless - the independents, however, produce stuff that actually works, and works well.

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