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Tobacco companies drop lawsuit against FDA

The US FDA will review its decision over modifications in labelling for tobacco products

USA • The tobacco companies Altria Group’s Philip Morris USA, Reynolds American and Lorillard have dropped their lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over modifications in labelling for tobacco products. The three companies had filed a lawsuit in April claiming that the guidance given by the FDA violates their free-speech rights by mandating pre-approval of labelling changes. However, they have decided to drop the complaint after the FDA agreed to review its decision last week.

In March, the FDA issued new rules, under which changing background colour of an existing product from green to red, changing its logo or adding words such as “premium tobacco” will make it a new product requiring agency approval. Since 2009, the FDA has been given rights to regulate tobacco, including the power to pre-review new tobacco products that are significantly different from older ones existing in the market.

Philip Morris International is fighting a similar battle in the UK as well. The company, along with British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International, has filed lawsuit against the UK Government to claim compensation for losses caused as a result of the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes. The companies are seeking close to £11bn in compensation.

Armin Karl Geiger

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