Published: Fri, September 20, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

FDA reveals criminal probe into vaping-related lung condition

FDA reveals criminal probe into vaping-related lung condition

With the spread showing no signs of abating, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened a criminal investigation into the illnesses.

US officials say the six people who died had pre-existing lung conditions or problems that may have made them more vulnerable.

"In cases like this, we typically turn to [the] OCI", said Mitch Zeller, the director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA. It will focus on the supply chain and figuring out what is making people sick.

Seven of these cases, including this first death, have been confirmed using the case definition developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A congressional subcommittee will hold a hearing on the outbreaks on Tuesday. Governors are calling for prohibitions on flavors like bubble gum, cotton candy and banana split, which critics say are meant to entice young people into trying vaping.

A U.S. District Court judge in Maryland in July issued an order that would require makers of tobacco products, including e-cigarette makers, to file the applications by May 12, 2020. Young people in particular have been affected by the epidemic, with about half of reported cases being in people under the age of 25, USA Today reported.

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"We're facing a true epidemic in this country", DeGette said in a statement.

As public health concerns over vaping continue to build, two congressmen are introducing bipartisan legislation aimed at curbing the habit, especially among underage users. And in some states, lawmakers are contemplating raising taxes on vaping products as a way to discourage their use.

When finalized, the rule would also help to ensure that e-cigarette applications by manufacturers contain information on the product's potential public health benefits and harms, the FDA said.

Health Canada began urging people to watch for symptoms that include chest pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, cough and shortness of breath, and has said doctors and other health professionals should be asking their patients about e-cigarette use.

Zeller said the FDA is analyzing samples for a broad range of chemicals, including nicotine, such as those containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the high-inducing component of marijuana, and other marijuana ingredients, as well as opioids, cutting agents or diluents and other additives, pesticides, poisons and toxins. No one substance has surfaced in all samples. This following reports in the United Kingdom and the U.S.A. of a mysterious illness that seems to be linked to vaping. The deaths were reported in California (2), Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon.

Based on data on the cases so far, almost three-quarters of the cases are male and more than half are under 25 years of age, Schuchat said. Seven of the cases, including the first death, have been confirmed and nine are still being investigated.

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