By Chino S. Leyco
Tobacco manufacturer PMFTC Inc. said it will not yet introduce its IQOS brand in the Philippines despite the major victory by its parent Philip Morris International (PMI) of securing US Food and Drug Administration’s clearance to sell the heat-not-burn device.
In a statement, Patrick Muttart, PMFTC external affairs and communications director, said that while the regulatory permit to sell IQOS in the US market is “good news” for the local affiliate of PMI, “we continue to evaluate market and regulatory conditions for the introduction of IQOS in the Philippines.”
“Our initial research tells us that six out of 10 Filipino smokers are already open to trying better alternatives to smoking. The US FDA authorization, as well as our research, is encouraging indicators for us to work hard to be able to offer IQOS to Filipino consumers,” Muttart said.
Last Monday, the US FDA confirmed that PMI’s IQOS has been authorized to be sold in the US following the regulator’s comprehensive assessment of the company’s premarket tobacco product applications filed in 2017. IQOS system is the first electrically heated tobacco product to qualify for sale in the US, according to PMI. However, the global tobacco giant’s claim that the electronic tobacco device poses less of a health risk than cigarettes is still pending for FDA approval.
“The FDA’s decision to authorize IQOS in the US is an important step forward for the approximately 40 million American men and women who smoke. Some will quit. Most won’t, and for them IQOS offers a smoke-free alternative to continued smoking,” André Calantzopoulos, PMI chief executive said.
“All of us at PMI are determined to replace cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives that combine sophisticated technology and intensive scientific validation. FDA’s announcement is a historic milestone,” he added.
PMI will bring IQOS to the US market through an exclusive license with Altria Group, Inc., whose subsidiary Philip Morris USA has the market expertise and infrastructure to ensure a successful launch. PM USA is ready to deploy its initial lead market plans for IQOS.