Lessening the number of people who smoke cigarettes has been an endeavor of the medical community for years now. Significant investment and R&D have gone into developing solutions and safer alternatives for smokers, and big tobacco companies are starting to see that they should shift with the times.
In a recent announcement, Malboro cigarette makers Altria Group Inc. (NYSE:MO) have entered into an agreement to fund R&D of Lexaria Bioscience’s (CSE:LXX,OTCQX:LXRP) DehydraTECH™technology. Altria’s subsidiary, Altria Ventures, has agreed to invest US$12 million in a minority interest of the biotech company’s Lexaria Nicotine LLC division. The money will fund milestone-based clinical investigations utilizing DehydraTECH, with the goal of developing regulatory compliant, oral forms of nicotine delivery. This would make nicotine delivery much safer for consumers.
According to a recent Forbes article on the partnership, Lexaria’s solution is a “completely different, non-combustion-based, non-inhalation-based method which requires no chemicals or additives. Nor is it a nicotine gum or a patch.”
“We use a patented dehydration synthesis process to combine the nicotine with simple ingredients like sunflower oil in a unique way,” Lexaria CEO Chris Bunka explains.” It allows for the removal of the bitter taste often associated with nicotine without the need for artificial flavors that are often appealing to children. Moreover, tested in animals in 2018, we proved that Dehydratech could deliver nicotine to the bloodstream of an animal in as little as two minutes. The fact that it is fast means that smokers might not be frustrated waiting for their nicotine experience to begin, the way they have been with traditional nicotine products such as gums and lozenges.”
Bunka sees Altria’s commitment to this emerging technology as a decision to adapt to the shifting demands of the consumer market. “It means we have to examine whether their company is selling tobacco from a traditional point of view or selling an ‘experience’ from the new-age viewpoint,” he said. “I happen to believe they have come around to realizing they are selling an experience, just like alcohol, cannabis, and coffee. Once the experience –including mild euphoria and increased cognition– is separated from the delivery method, it looks a little different.”
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