Luther Pendragon no longer working with Philip Morris

Luther Pendragon has told healthcare clients that it is no longer working with Philip Morris after a number of them questioned its work with the tobacco firm.

Philip Morris: No longer working with Luther Pendragon (Credit: PhotoDisc)
Philip Morris: No longer working with Luther Pendragon (Credit: PhotoDisc)

The agency's work with Philip Morris was thrown into the spotlight by an article in The Lancet, which urged healthcare organisations to cut their ties, last week.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry also went public to say it had dropped the agency in December after learning it worked with the tobacco company.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society head of public affairs Charles Willis told PRWeek: ‘Luther Pendragon have confirmed that they are no longer working with Phillip Morris International.

‘We are happy with this response and with the work Luther Pendragon have carried out with us. The work that Luther have carried out for their other clients has not conflicted with the joint work between Luther and RPS.’

A spokesperson from the National Pharmacy Association also told PRWeek it understood that Luther Pendragon no longer worked for Philip Morris.

Both pharmaceutical bodies were named in a letter to The Lancet from senior healthcare professionals urging healthcare organizations to sever their links with PR companies ‘that work to promote the interests of the tobacco industry.’

It named a number of healthcare organisations as former clients of Luther Pendragon. However some of the organisations named, including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, National Pharmacy Association and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pharmacy are current clients of the agency.

Luther Pendragon acts as the APPG on Pharmacy’s secretariat, on behalf of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, the National Pharmacy Association, the Company Chemists Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

The chair of the group Kevin Barron MP and vice-chairs Baroness Cumberlege and Oliver Colvile MP, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Prior to the revelation that Luther Pendragon had ceased working with Philip Morris, a spokesperson for the Association of Optometrists and the Federation of Opthalmic and Dispensing Opticians, also mentioned in the Lancet piece, said while it had worked with Luther Pendragon in the past, ‘it had not in fact for the past two years’.

A spokesperson said ‘We were unaware of the connection and very much support any action to discourage smoking and on tobacco products labelling, especially with regard to ophthalmic public health.’

St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust also said it had not worked with Luther Pendragon since 2010 when it used the agency for a project brief around branding when the trust was merged.

On Friday it responded to enquiries on Twitter questioning its relationship with the agency, saying ‘We always endeavor to ensure that our suppliers uphold the values of the NHS’ and that ‘the trust has no existing plans to commission any services or other support from Luther Pendragon.’

A spokesperson for the trust said it had received a number of enquiries from the public about its work with Luther Pendragon.

NHS Skills for Health, a company licensed by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills also said it had not worked with Luther Pendragon for a number of years.

Philip Morris has been listed as a Luther Pendragon client on the APPC lobby register since 1 June 2012.

Luther Pendragon declined to comment while Phiip Morris confirmed the agency was no longer providing consultancy services to it in the UK.

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