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Reynolds, Lorillard Sue to Block U.S. FDA Committee Report

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Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. sued to block the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from receiving recommendations from an advisory committee that includes members that the cigarette makers claim have conflicts of interest.

Reynolds and Lorillard, the second- and third-biggest U.S. cigarette makers, filed the complaint today in federal court in Washington. They seek an order preventing the FDA from receiving the report, which is to include recommendations on the use of menthol in cigarettes.

Three of the eight committee members “have severe financial and appearance conflicts of interest and associated biases,” the companies said in their complaint. The three members serve as paid expert witnesses in lawsuits against the tobacco industry and take money from drug companies that make nicotine-replacement products and other smoking-cessation aids, according to the complaint.

Reynolds, a unit of Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Reynolds American Inc., makes Camel and Winston cigarettes in addition to its Kool and Salem menthol brands. Lorillard Tobacco is a unit of Lorillard Inc., based in Greensboro, North Carolina. It makes Newport, the top-selling menthol brand.

Jeffrey Ventura, an FDA spokesman, declined to comment on the suit.

Altria Group Inc.’s Philip Morris USA unit is the biggest U.S. cigarette maker.

The case is Lorillard Inc. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 11-cv-00440, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in New York at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.

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