News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

FDA halts sales of nicotine lollipops

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 20 April 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:936
  1. Annabel Ferriman
  1. BMJ

    The Food and Drug Administration last week sent “cease and desist” letters to three pharmacies ordering them to halt sales of lollipops containing nicotine.

    Sold as smoking cessation products, the FDA said the lollipops were illegal because they use an untested form of nicotine called salicylate, a chemical that has not been approved by the FDA.

    Nicorette gum, nicotine patches, and nasal sprays use a different form of nicotine called polacrilex, which is approved by the FDA. The former smoking cessation aids have also gone through testing by the agency to prove they are safe and effective.

    The lollipops, which contain 2 mg or 4 mg of nicotine (cigarettes contain about 10 mg), sell for $2 (£1.40; €2.30) to $5 and come in different flavours, such as grape, watermelon, and tequila sunrise.

    Doctors and health campaigners have expressed concerns that they may be bought and used by children because they look like ordinary lollipops. The FDA has previously said that smoking cessation products should not taste too good because they might be abused.

    The FDA also said that pharmacies have been “dispensing” the lollipops without a prescription. The FDA has given three pharmacies—Ashland Drugs in Ashland, Mississippi, Bird's Hill Pharmacy in Needham, Massachusetts, and the Compounding Pharmacy in Aurora, Illinois—15 days to notify the agency that sales have been halted to avoid further legal action.

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