Reynolds CEO Embraces FDA Challenge

Innovation a critical focus for reducing harm, executive says

NEW YORK -- Innovation and technology will play pivotal roles in the evolution of nicotine delivery, said the CEO of Reynolds American Inc., taking up the challenge laid out in midsummer when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revised its tobacco policy to focus on nicotine levels in cigarettes and put harm-reduction options up for renewed review.

Debra Crew, CEO of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Reynolds, said technology provides an important opportunity to give smokers their desired nicotine in a less harmful way, according to a CNBC report.

“If we can put a man on the moon, we can deliver tobacco to people with less risk than smoking,” Crew said in a speech Sept. 13 at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum in New York. She likened the FDA’s new tobacco initiatives to President John F. Kennedy’s quest to put a man on the moon. She said the vision put forth by Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA’s new commissioner, is like Kennedy’s in that it can be a leap for mankind, she said.

The industry is ready, Crew said, to meet the challenge, and she expects to see increased innovation.

As part of its new tobacco policy announced July 28, the FDA will begin a public dialogue about lowering nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to nonaddictive levels. It will issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to seek input on the potential public health benefits and any possible adverse effects of lowering nicotine in cigarettes. As part of those changes, the FDA declared its commitment to innovations that could lead to less harmful products.

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