- The FDA is warning consumers not to use any THC-containing vapes, whether purchased on the street or in retail stores, amid a lung disease outbreak.
- So far, the lung disease outbreak has sickened 1,080 people in the US, with 18 deaths reported, the CDC said on Thursday.
- The FDA has also opened a criminal probe into the matter.
The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to purchase or use any vaporizers that contain THC amid an outbreak of vape-related illnesses.
So far, the outbreak has sickened 1,080 people in the US with 18 deaths reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. Of the 578 cases that researchers have information on, 78% of them indicated they had used THC-containing products.
"[T]he 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. Simply put, inhaling harmful contaminants in the lungs could put a patient's health at risk and should be avoided," the FDA said in a statement from acting director Norman Sharpless.
While the FDA has not yet identified the specific cause of the illnesses, some experts have pointed to chemicals like vitamin E acetate — which are used to thicken the oil in illicit vape cartridges — as a potential cause.
The FDA is continuing to investigate the illnesses and has not ruled out nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and co-use with THC products, and has not been able to determine if there is a specific substance associated with all of the cases, the agency said.
The FDA has also opened a criminal investigation into vaping illnesses.
"If we determine that someone is manufacturing or distributing illicit, adulterated vaping products that caused illness and death for personal profit, we would consider that to be a criminal act," the agency said.
"As this complex investigation continues, we urge consumers to take heed of our warning and stop using THC vaping products, and to not use vaping products of any kind that are purchased off the street or from unknown sources."
States including Massachusetts have put bans in place on the sale of THC vapes.