England planning to make vape medical product

England is likely to become the first country in the world to prescribe medicinally licensed vapes — also known as e-cigarettes — to help reduce smoking rates, the country’s Department of Health and Social Care and Office for Health Improvement and Disparities said in a recent press release.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is set to publish an updated guidance which will enable vape products to get medically licensed, allowing healthcare providers to prescribe them to tobacco smokers wishing to quit.

The country’s Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid welcomed the new initiative for the licensing process for manufacturers. Through the updated regulation medical regulator will work with manufacturers to assess safety and effectiveness of vaping products.

The move supports the government ambition for England to be smoke-free by 2030, the government press release said.

If a product receives MHRA approval, clinicians could then decide on a case-by-case basis whether it would be appropriate to prescribe a vape to NHS patients to help them quit smoking.

The press release noted that vapes contain nicotine and are not risk free. But, it went on to say, expert reviews from the UK and US have been clear that the regulated e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking. A medicinally licensed e-cigarette would have to pass even more rigorous safety checks, said the government notice.

Vapes were the most popular aid used by smokers trying to quit in England in 2020. Vapes have been shown to be highly effective in supporting those trying to quit, with up to 68% vape users successfully quitting cigarette smoking in 2020 to 2021.

“Opening the door to a licensed e-cigarette prescribed on the NHS has the potential to tackle the stark disparities in smoking rates across the country, helping people stop smoking wherever they live and whatever their background,” Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said.