Anti-smoking aid to boost Bioglan

SMOKERS WHO want to quit will soon be able to "sniff" their daily nicotine dose thanks to a revolutionary product developed by Bioglan, a recently-floated pharmaceutical company.

The "nicotine sniffer" - a nasal spray - promises to become the latest weapon in millions of people's daily struggle to give up smoking.

The device, currently being developed by the Hertfordshire-based company, uses a burst of highly-pressurised gas to deliver a nicotine dose into the nose.

According to Terry Sadler, the chief executive, the sniffer is more effective than traditional methods such as nicotine patches because the sprayed liquid is absorbed by the mucose in the nose and gets directly into the bloodstream.

Bioglan, which came to the market in December with a pounds 200m flotation, is planning to launch the product in the next 18 months. Mr Sadler believes the sniffer could become a powerful competitor to patches and other therapies aimed at the nine million Britons who try to give up smoking every year.

Bioglan is in talks with a number of pharmaceutical companies who want to buy the rights to the sniffer, Mr Sadler said. The market for aids to quit smoking has boomed over the past few years as people and governments have become more health-conscious.

It is estimated that the 1.1bn smokers across the world spend $500m (pounds 312m) a year on nicotine replacement therapies. In Britain, almost three- quarters of the 13m adult smokers say they would like to stop.

The Government has recently launched an anti-smoking campaign, high- lighting the huge social and economic cost of the habit.

According to Government figures, more than 120,000 people a year die from smoking, with hundreds more killed by passive smoking. The habit costs the NHS pounds 1.7bn each year and the Government believes the problem could get worse as more and more young people take up smoking.

The sniffer is a departure from Bioglan's traditional markets. The group specialises in dermatology and last year boosted its portfolio of skin- care drugs with the pounds 16m purchase of a batch of products from the pharmaceutical giant Zeneca.

The company is believed to be looking at expanding its portfolio of 50 products with a US acquisition.