FDA Investigating Cases of Seizures from Vaping

Source: Diego Vito Cervo - 123RF

The Food and Drug Administration is investigating 127 cases of people suffering from seizures after vaping, the agency announced Wednesday.

The agency also issued warning letters notifying four companies that 44 flavored e-liquid and hookah tobacco products do not have the required marketing authorization, and thus cannot be legally sold in the United States.

These new actions are part of the FDA’s ongoing, aggressive effort to investigate and take action against illegally marketed tobacco products amid the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use in America.

The agency received about 92 new reports of people, especially kids and young adults, experiencing seizures after using e-cigarettes since it first announced its investigation into the issue in April.

The FDA said it’s unclear whether e-cigarettes caused the seizures and cautioned these cases occurred over a 10-year period.

The FDA said several factors may lead to seizures, such as some e-cigarette designs allowing people to get huge amounts of nicotine quickly or some people deliberately inhaling more nicotine than normal.

Also, the seizures may have been triggered by something else, like an underlying medical condition or another substance.

According to the CDC, as of September 30, 2018, ten states (California, Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont), the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have passed comprehensive smoke-free indoor air laws that ban e-cigarettes in any place where smoking is banned.

In the past three months, four states—Florida, New Mexico, South Dakota, and most recently Minnesota on May 31—put in place no-vaping mandates for most types of indoor workplaces.

According to a qualitative study by NIOSH, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) entered the US market little less than a decade ago, and sales were projected to reach $3.5 billion by the end of 2015.

These products are popular among current and former smokers who perceive them as smoking reduction or cessation aids.

ENDS are battery-powered heating coils that aerosolize liquid containing propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin mixed with flavorings and nicotine.

ENDS are broadly classified into 2 categories: closed systems (cigalikes), and open systems (eg, vape pens, vaporizers, vapes, tanks, eGo style) (5,6). ENDS are sold principally in stores known as vape shops (7).

According to MD Anderson Cancer Center, many e-cigarettes are loaded with addictive nicotine and even those without nicotine may contain toxic chemicals.

E-cigarettes have been known to explode and the fluid is poisonous if it comes into contact with eyes or skin, or if you accidentally or deliberately drink it.

According to the CDC, the e-cigarette aerosol that users breathe from the device and exhale can contain harmful and potentially harmful substances, including:

  • Nicotine;
  • Ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs;
  • Flavoring such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious lung disease;
  • Volatile organic compounds;
  • Cancer-causing chemicals; and
  • Heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead

The FDA said the evidence it has analyzed so far doesn’t establish a clear pattern or cause for the cases. It also said the additional reports “do not necessarily indicate an increase in frequency or prevalence” of seizures among people who vape.