When the Japanese government raised the tax on cigarettes on Oct. 1, it could have started 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.
Less than two weeks after the tax increase went into effect, the company was forced to suspend sales of the drug to new patients until it could ramp up production.
Now, with the drug still difficult to get, Japanese health professionals and many of the nation’s smokers are grumbling.
And Pfizer has given up millions of dollars in potential Chantix sales, at least temporarily, at a time when overseas markets are growing in importance. In the United States, prescriptions for the drug plunged after the Food and Drug Administration warned doctors about psychiatric side effects.
Read the rest of the story: Pfizer’s Chantix Runs Short in Japan After Cigarette Tax Rise.