World first: Vaping product now in pharmacies
Monday, 21 October 2019
Believed to be a world-first, a vaping system branded specifically for the healthcare sector is now available in many pharmacies throughout New Zealand.
The off-the-shelf product, branded Vapix, is marketed to smokers over 18 years of age, encouraging them to ‘Make The Switch’.
Its Kiwi owners and developers say getting a high-quality vaping product into pharmacies is well overdue. The move has also been welcomed by many in the health sector.
Exclusive to Unichem and Life Pharmacy, the Vapix system is packaged to include a battery and capsule with an option of flavours, nicotine or non-nicotine. The smoking cessation product is now available in the majority of 360 Unichem and Life Pharmacy stores nationwide.
Vapix is the brainchild of the country’s largest vaping company, Alt New Zealand. It is thought to be the only vaping product developed for pharmacy and healthcare purposes in the world.
Alt New Zealand co-owners, Ben Pryor and Jonathan Devery, say the opportunities to also dispense traditional medicines via the mechanism of vaping are limitless. They are now investigating other medical purposes for vaping beyond smoking cessation.
Their New Zealand-registered company, Myriad Pharmaceuticals, was established last year to develop Vapix and assess other opportunities.
Myriad’s chief scientist, Eliana Golberstein, says in this current unregulated market no therapeutic claims can be made about vaping, albeit Government regulations are now imminent. Regardless, Myriad is conducting clinical trials with the aim of Vapix one day gaining registration as a Medsafe-approved medicine.
Owner of Unichem All Seasons Pharmacy in West Auckland, Marie Bennett, now stocks Vapix. In recent years, smokers wanting to quit have increasingly visited her pharmacy making enquiries about vaping. She says Vapix is stocked strictly as a smoking cessation tool and sold only to adult smokers attempting to quit.
“As the Ministry of Health makes clear, vaping is an effective tool to support smokers to quit tobacco and it is less harmful than smoking. We are pleased to provide smokers with the Vapix option, ensuring we now have a full suite of options for smokers keen to give up. Without doubt vaping has helped a lot of Kiwis quit smoking,” says Ms Bennett.
She says pharmacists supplying Vapix closely follow the Pharmacy Council’s guidance statement which sits alongside Ministry of Health guidelines.
Mr Pryor says the launch of Vapix reinforces vaping’s critical role in reducing New Zealand’s smoking rates and its growing acceptance by healthcare professionals as a trusted alternative.
He says recent University of Auckland research involving 1,124 adult New Zealanders motivated to quit smoking has been compelling for many. Released last month, the large study concluded that using nicotine-based vapes in combination with nicotine patches proved the most effective way for participants to become smoke-free after six months
“Associate Minister of Health, Jenny Salesa, is set to introduce vaping legislation which may cut nicotine levels and get rid of most flavours. The fact that New Zealand’s largest pharmacies are now stocking Vapix, offering both nicotine and flavour options, says a lot about what actually works,” says Ben Pryor
Vapix is available in Gold Tobacco and Menthol Ice flavours
Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ has recently come out, publicly backing pharmacists supplying vapes to smokers trying to quit.
Health organisations that have an agreed position on vaping being less harmful than smoking and can help smokers to quit, include the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand, all District Health Boards, New Zealand Medical Association, and the Heart Foundation. Their supporting logos can be found on the Vaping-To-Quit-Smoking website launched by the Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Agency this year.
The Alt New Zealand co-owners say they will continue to drive their retail presence and brands Vapix, Vapo, and Alt to meet customer demand.
Vapo now has 11 stores nationwide, with Sylvia Park and NorthWest the latest additions for Auckland, and Nelson now home to the South Island’s second Vapo store.
Their company remains driven by the prospect of New Zealand one day being tobacco-free.