Electronic smoking: vaping, atomizing or vaping e-medicines is not only a possible future for treating illness, it is a reality for every current person who vapes. Announcements have been made that e-liquid sale and distribution will be regulated as a medicines by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The MHRA will be the body too oversee the regulation of vaping e-medicines, reporting back to the UK government on findings regarding the safety of both e-liquid and vaping devices.
The MHRA is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK by ensuring they work and are acceptably safe.
The MHRA also umbrellas the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD); the MRHA is the executive agency for the Department of Health.
An account of the three agencies’ role is outlined here by MHRA chief executive Ian Hudson in this so-called transparency video. It is worth noting the roles and the field of expertise that the other two agencies bring – the NIBSC and CPRD – as they will also play a hand in the overall regulatory decisions expected in 2016.
E-cigs Regulated as Medicine
The current reasons being given for the MHRA regulations are to do with product safety of e-liquid and vaping devices, as well as to try and tackle the problem of under aged smokers picking up the habit.
“ This move has been widely welcomed by medical experts and officials, as tighter regulation will ensure the products are safe and effective. Until this happens, e-cigarettes are only covered by general product safety legislation, meaning they can legally be promoted and sold to children, and we cannot be sure of their ingredients or how much nicotine they contain. The MHRA will not ban the products entirely during this interim period, but will encourage e-cigarette manufacturers to apply for a medicine licence.” (source)
Above is a statement made on the official NHS website explaining the reasons for, and initial effects of the proposed regulation of e-cig manufacturing and sale as medicinal products.
Post 2016, E-cigarette medicine licence
After the 2016 regulations come into affect, and with medicine licenses in hand, e-smoking manufactures could theoretically carry on with the sale of regulated vaporizing products. The medicinal licence makes it easier for other e-medicines such as vaped Ibuprofen and Paracetamol to come onto the market as the MHRA and NIBSC already regulate this industry. This partnership would speed up safety research and decision making into e-meds as there would be no requirement for extra licences.
Although little information has been released about e-medicine trials, research has been conducted using vaporizing technology as treatment for illness. Vaping medicines as treatment for flu, migraines and even cancer could be a social norm post-2016. Providing regulations and medicinal licences allow the development of e-medicine.
The evolution of vaporizing subsequently opens the door to pharmaceutical giants such as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to compete in the vaping market. They would compete alongside the tobacco giants heading up the current marketplace, for example Philip Morris who have invested millions in electronic smoking and have bought out many smaller e-cig brands in a bid to secure their position as an international multi-corporate organisation.
Controlling Electronic Smoking
Control of this lucrative industry will be hard fought and most likely littered with allegations of bribery and corruption. When the free market links with the regulators, and government announces the results, it will be interesting to see where the vested interests of the decision makers lie.
Complete public transparency and a full public investigation prior to 2016 regulation is required as a matter of public interest. That in itself is a mammoth task as data transparency and corporate information is often very hard to obtain. It is difficult to know who will benefit from the law and product changes, but it is likely to include some current politicians and other members of parliament who have vested interests in.