It’s unclear what types of companies the probe will target, or whether it will hold black market manufacturers accountable

As the nationwide vaping crisis intensifies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Thursday that it is launching a criminal probe into the outbreak.

The FDA’s law enforcement branch, the Office of Criminal Investigations, is looking into the rash of vaping illnesses nationwide, Mitch Zeller, the director for the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, told the Washington Post.

Zeller suggested that the office would be focusing in particular on THC vape cartridges, specifically those bought off the black market, though he stressed that it would not be targeting people who bought such products. “The focus is on the supply chain,” he said, referring to those who manufacture and distribute bootleg THC cartridges.

Since earlier this summer, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and FDA have launched an investigation into a slew of vaping-related lung ailments. Patients have reported such symptoms as shortness of breath, persistent coughing, and chest pain, as well as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 570 such ailments have been documented in 38 states, as well as more than seven vaping-related deaths.

In light of the swirl of media coverage surrounding vaping-related lung ailments, as well as President Trump’s statement last week indicating his administration was mulling a ban of flavored e-cigarettes, the revelation of the criminal probe is not exactly surprising, says Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver. “What it means is that [the FDA is] taking this epidemic seriously,” he tells Rolling Stone. 

Read full article here.

EJ Dickson – RollingStone – September 19, 2019.

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