The Reuters press agency recently made a statement that the IQOS cigarette by Philip Morris, supposedly less harmful than tobacco, was known to have issues during the testing phase. Clinical trials took place in Neuchâtel, and were apparently “problematic” according to the declarations of a number of scientists and former employees.
Philip Morris invested heavily in Heat-Not-Burn or HNB technology, and IQOS was said to reduce tobacco harmfulness by 90 % compared to traditional combustion. This quality has recently been contested via a study recently revealed to the public that contradicts the statements made by the American brand.
Former employees testified that there were a number of issues with the multinational company’s testing procedures. Scientists committed to the project denounced the partial and brazenly commercial nature of the process. Thus, today there is no reliable evidence that HNB tobacco is less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
Has the American launch been compromised?
The Reuters study represents a serious blow to Philip Morris. The company invested billions of dollars to establisih a strong position on the HNB market and expand its product range. Biased clinical trials or falsified results could do serious damage to the company’s brand image.
The IQOS device has not yet been released in the USA. The FDA has yet to reach a firm conclusion on market authorisation, expected for 2018. As of now, audits of the various sites where the tests were performed are underway. Despite categorical denial by Philip Morris regarding the hypothetical issues with testing procedures, the company stock lost 2,5 % value at the New York stock exchange after the publication of the Reuters study.
Last May, the Lausanne university polyclinic had issued warnings concerning the dangers of IQOS technology. While these may generate a lesser variety of toxic elements, HNB tobacco vapour may contain just as many carcinogens. These revelations may force Philip Morris to rethink their commercial strategy sooner rather than later.