E-cigarettes may be prescribed by the NHS after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) updated its guidance for people who are trying to quit smoking.
According to the MHRA, e-cigarettes can be submitted to undergo the same process that other medical products go through for regulatory approval.
If one of the products gets approved, clinicians could then decide on prescribing an e-cigarette on a case-by-case basis to NHS patients in an attempt to help them quit smoking.
Although containing nicotine and not being devoid of risks, expert reviews from the UK and US have clarified that regulated e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid stated that a licensed e-cigarette prescribed on the NHS could potentially tackle “stark disparities” in smoking rates across the UK.
CEO of the health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Deborah Arnotts said that smokers who are cautious about e-cigarettes may be more inclined to try it when it’s provided by a medical license.
Consultant Physician at the Royal Brompton and Medical Director at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation ‘Nick Hopkinson’ stated that “the development of medicinally licensed e-cigarettes would be a really important step forward, providing patients and healthcare professionals with an additional tool to break dependence on smoking, backed up by the reassurance that comes from a rigorous authorisation process.”
If this goes ahead, England will be the first country in the world to prescribe e-cigarettes as a medical product.