The UK pharma group the ABPI have dropped their PR firm Luther Pendragon after it emerged that the firm was working for a tobacco firm.

Luther Pendragon had been working on a brief with the tobacco company Phillip Morris since July last year to help the firm lobby against using plain packaging for cigarettes.

The ABPI, recognising that this is an anathema to what their members do, told PharmaTimes UK news: “As soon as the ABPI learnt in December last year that Luther Pendragon had taken the decision to work for a tobacco company, we served notice and MHP Mandate were appointed to provide public affairs support.”

But the PR firm is now reported to have dropped Phillip Morris, with The Royal Pharmaceutical Society head of public affairs Charles Willis telling 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 has carried out for their other clients has not conflicted with the joint work between Luther and RPS.”

This all came to light after an editorial in the Lancet publicly criticised the firm for its client, and named both the ABPI and the RPS in its piece, urging them to both drop the PR firm.

In the UK, Luther Pendragon’s clients have also included the Department of Health, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Air Products, the All Party Pharmacy Group, the Association of Optometrists, the Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians, the National Pharmacy Association, NHS Skills for Health, and St George's Healthcare NHS Trust.

Philip Morris has been listed as a Luther Pendragon client on the APPC lobby register since 1 June 2012, but said it is no longer receiving consultancy services from Luther Pendragon.