WASHINGTON, D.C., (WREX) — The acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration is issuing a new warning Friday about vaping products containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
FDA Acting Commissioner Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless MD, says the FDA has been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate hundreds of vape-related illnesses and deaths.
“This is a complex, ongoing and evolving investigation,” Dr. Sharpless said. “In addition to our own analyses, we are also diligently reviewing published literature of third-party analyses of samples and data, which are beneficial to our ongoing investigation.”
At this time, the FDA says it does not have enough data to identify a cause of the vape-related lung illnesses but says health experts know THC is present in most of the samples tested.
“Because of this, the agency believes it is prudent to stop using vaping products that contain THC or that have had any substances added to them, including those purchased from retail establishments,” said Dr. Sharpless. “Simply put, inhaling harmful contaminants in the lungs could put a patient’s health at risk and should be avoided.”
The FDA says additional testing revealed that a majority of the hundreds of samples of vaping products tested by the states or by the FDA so far have been identified as containing THC. According to recent findings, most of the patients impacted by these illnesses reported using THC-containing products, suggesting THC products are playing a role in the these illnesses.
“Although these cases present similarly in patients, it is not clear if they have a common cause, or if they have differing pathogenesis with similar presentation,” said FDA representatives. “The investigation has not identified any specific substance or product that is linked to all cases.”
Although, the FDA says some patients reported using both nicotine and THC products and a smaller number of patients reported using only nicotine.
The number of vape-related injuries has exceeded 1,000 and at least 17 people have died.
The FDA is using state-of-the-art methods to assess the presence of a broad range of chemicals, including nicotine, THC and other cannabinoids along with opioids, cutting agents/diluents and other additives, pesticides, poisons and toxins. To date, the agency has collected or received more than 440 samples from 18 states and that number continues to grow.
“We are leaving no stone unturned in following all potential leads regarding any particular product, constituent or compound that may be at issue,” said FDA representatives. “In that spirit, the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) began parallel investigative efforts shortly after the emergence of the associated illnesses.”