Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Pfizer Norway wants the government to pay for Champix

Sissel Lønning Andresen, CEO of Pfizer Norway, recently published a post in Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, where she claims that "E-cigarettes are neither the problem nor the solution to the tobacco problem". This was published in a section called "Meanings", where readers can express their opinions: http://goo.gl/V3LbQ7. I wouldn't expect Pfizer to see e-cigarettes as the solution, and she writes that it's not the problem either so this doesn't look to bad. But actually this article is nothing but an attempt to promote their own products, especially Champix. Lønning writes that "the problem with replacing cigarettes with other nicotine products is that it doesn't affect the the underlying nicotine addiction. Every week 100 Norwegians die from tobacco, therefore our main focus should still be on how we can offer pragmatic and realistic solutions to get as many as possible to quit smoking, or even better, become totally free of nicotine addiction." And she goes on to reveal her true purpose of this post:
"In the toolbox of Norwegian doctors there is nicotine free pharmaceutical products with well documented smoking cessation effects. These products are still not covered by the "blue prescription plan". Even patients with severe cases of COPD cannot get these products through "blue prescription", even though we know that quitting is by far the most important medical measure for a lot of these people."
The "blue prescription plan" is a system where the government covers expenses for drugs for patients with serious and long-term illnesses. There is a little known paragraph in the medicine regulations here in Norway that hinders drugs for hair loss, impotence, alcohol addiction and tobacco addiction from being covered by this plan, and this paragraph is what Lønning wants to get into focus and probably rid of by writing this post.

Lønning doesn't argue that nicotine is bad for you, but she says that not getting rid of the addiction increases the chance of reverting to cigarettes. Actually it's the other way around. If you still get the nicotine from other, less harmful, sources the chance of reverting decreases. That's common sense. And that is exactly why e-cigarettes are working so well.

I also found a quite interesting comment on the post from a vaper who was part of the Champix trials here in Norway. She says she only managed to quit for 3 days through the use of Champix. After only 2 years Champix was available in the pharmacies. Where was the cry-out for long term studies before this happened? I think we all have read about the side-effects of Champix by now. And this vaper also says the last Champix attempt almost killed her, and having claimed 500 lives so far the pill kills faster than the cigarettes. Good point!

This has nothing to do with concern for public health from Pfizer Norway's side. It's all about the money. Lønning finishes the article by saying she believes our minister of health, Bent Høye, belongs to a party that believes more in reason than prohibition and that she hopes the government will re-consider their position when it comes to refunding smoking cessation drugs. Her agenda seems pretty clear now: She wants the Norwegian government to pay for peoples Champix, so her company can sell more of it.

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