BAT Ends Supply Deal for Voke Nicotine Inhalers -- 2nd Update
By Saabira Chaudhuri
LONDON-- British American Tobacco PLC terminated the supplier
agreement for its long-delayed Voke nicotine inhaler, which the
tobacco giant had promoted as setting it apart in the growing
market for cigarette alternatives.
BAT in 2014 received a medicinal license for Voke from the
U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, marking
the first time a product from a major tobacco company had been
licensed by a Western government.
Voke isn't an electronic cigarette--it doesn't heat liquid, use
a battery or create vapor--meaning BAT expected it to be unaffected
by regulations targeting such devices.
The product, meant to be sold as a cigarette-sized stick in a
box containing 20 nicotine refills, was billed as a safer
alternative to cigarettes--in the same way as nicotine gum or
patches--and one that could be prescribed by doctors.
BAT, which licensed distribution rights to Voke from closely
held patent developer Kind Consumer Ltd., had said it expected the
product to be launched in the U.K. by the end of 2015. The
London-based tobacco giant has delayed the launch several times,
On Tuesday, drug-delivery-device maker Consort Medical PLC said
BAT was terminating its entire supply deal for Voke, effective
immediately, which was a contractual right if the product hadn't
been commercially launched by the end of 2016.
The companies remain in "constructive dialogue" about the future
of Voke, Consort said. A BAT spokeswoman declined to comment on
whether the deal's termination meant Voke was being permanently
shelved. Kind Consumer also declined to comment.
In an interview in December, Kingsley Wheaton, BAT's head of
next-generation products, described Voke as "a very complex and
challenging product to miniaturize at speed" and said the company
was "still working through the many manufacturing challenges of
Analysts hadn't expected Voke to be a significant revenue driver
for BAT, but they had seen the product as diversifying the Dunhill
and Lucky Strike owner's offerings within the market for cigarette
Consort's shares were down 3.3% in recent London trading, while
BAT's were down less than 0.1%. Consort said the termination didn't
materially affect its performance expectations for the fiscal year
ending in April.
contributed to this article.
Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 03, 2017 11:00 ET (16:00 GMT)
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