Japanese tax on cigarettes increases demand for drug to help smokers quit

interns Contributor
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TOKYO — When the Japanese government raised the tax on cigarettes on Oct. 1, it should have sparked a public health revolution in this land of heavy smokers.

The tax increase should also have been a bonanza for Pfizer, the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company, which makes the leading drug to help smokers break the habit.

Instead, it became a missed opportunity.

Despite ample notice of the change, Pfizer failed to produce enough of the drug, Chantix, which is sold as Champix in Japan. When tens of thousands of would-be quitters rushed to their doctors for prescriptions, Pfizer was overwhelmed.

Full story: Pfizer caught short of antismoking drug in Japan