A host of lobby groups have complained to the government about the deal, the Times reported, including the Tobacco Control Research Group, which is a research partner in STOP, Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).
Medical research charities, meanwhile, are said the be “horrified” at the deal, reported the paper, and want the government to “work to ensure the future of this vital company is not in any way at risk”.
Jon Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, and Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, have also both urged the government to intervene.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has asked officials to investigate the rationale for the Marlboro cigarettes maker to buy Vectura, given that the drugs it develops are used to treat diseases often caused by smoking.
A clause in the Enterprise Act 2002 gives powers “to intervene in mergers and acquisitions to mitigate the effects of public health emergencies”.
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “While this is primarily a commercial matter for the parties concerned, the government is monitoring the situation closely.”
The 150p-per-share all-cash takeover was launched last Friday.