GSK licks Nicorette manufacturing problems; 'Minis' are back

It has taken more than a year to get its manufacturing problems, and lozenges, back into shape and shipped, but GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) says some Nicorette Lozenges are back on retailer shelves. That is particularly good news for those former smokers who have substituted a Nicorette habit for a smoking one.

GSK said Monday that after a "comprehensive assessment and complex testing process to correct manufacturing issues and improve quality measures," production of the Nicorette mini Lozenge has resumed. GSK said other smoking cessation products, including Nicorette gum and NicoDerm CQ, should be available later this year.

"The safety and well-being of our consumers is our number one priority and we did not compromise on the somewhat lengthy corrective actions that needed to be taken," Sue Kelsey, marketing director of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Wellness & Skin Health Brands, said in an announcement.  

In February 2014, GSK voluntarily recalled 335,000 vials of Nicorette Lozenges manufactured at a site in Aiken, SC, because some batches had produced lozenges that were larger or smaller than standards dictated. The recall resulted in a shortage that left some former smokers who swore by the product buying Nicorette Lozenges off of websites for sometimes three times its retail cost.

It was hard on GSK as well. The drugmaker doesn't say in its financial filings what sales of its Nicorette brands were last year, only that the consumer health biz delivered £4.8 billion ($7.3 billion) in sales, up 2%. But it did say that its U.S. sales of all products last year, while up 1%, were undercut in part by the "supply disruptions" of its Nicorette lines.

"We understand what a life-changing event stopping smoking can be and, at the same time, how incredibly difficult it can be to get there," Kelsey said in the announcement. "For those looking for help, we hope that the return to market of Nicorette mini Lozenge and our online information can help to provide the tools and inspiration to get smokers towards their goals."

- here's the announcement 
- here's the financial filing