September 19, 2019

First Lawsuit in Vape-Related Illness as FDA Launches Criminal Probe

September 19, 2019
fda food and drug administration maijuana dea
FDA launches criminal probe into vape-related illnesses.

It Had to Happen: Attorneys have filed a lawsuit against Juul Labs on behalf of an 18-year-old who was hospitalized with a vape-related lung disease. And, the FDA is launching a criminal probe into vape-related illnesses.

The Illinois teenager, Adam Hergenreder, had been vaping for over a year when he fell ill with a lung disease at the end of August, 2019 and was hospitalized for about a week after complaining of nausea and labored breathing.

Now he is suing Juul Labs, the dominant e-cigarette seller in the United States.

Hergenreder’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in Lake County Circuit Court in Illinois, according to the Associated Press. They are accusing Juul of deliberately marketing to young people by sending the message that vaping is cool and that adolescents could boost their social status by vaping.

The lawsuit also notes that Juul never fully disclosed that their products contain dangerous chemicals.

“To put it mildly, Adam didn’t stand a chance to avoid getting hooked on these toxic timebombs,” Hergenreder’s lawyer, Antonio Romanucci, said.

FDA Launches Probe

As the number of confirmed and probable cases of lung injury associated with e-cigarettes and vaping products has now climbed to more than 530 people hospitalized in at least 38 states and one territory, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Sept. 19, 2019 that it is launching a criminal investigation into the possible causes, reported Medscape.

While the exact cause of vaping-related lung illness remains elusive, said Anne Schuchat, MD, deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “states are classifying cases and reporting them to CDC on a regular basis.” She added that “No consistent e-cigarette or vaping product, substance, additive, or brand has been identified in all cases.”

Hergenreder, 18, recently told the Chicago Tribune that last year he started buying homemade devices filled with THC off the street.

Vaping companies say blame should be put on black-market devices although Hergenreder’s lawsuit does not directly raise that issue nor whether it is possible that the makeshift devices could have caused or contributed to his illness.

Meanwhile, Juul deflects all blame

Juul says they have “never marketed to youth” and have ongoing campaigns to combat underage use. It has continually claimed that its products are meant to help adult smokers wean themselves off traditional cigarettes.

The FDA begs to differ

“Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the continuum of tobacco product risk, the law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a warning letter to Juul Labs on Sept. 9, 2019.

“JUUL has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth,” Sharpless said.


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