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CDC, FDA Release Joint Statement on Collaboration to Investigate Respiratory Illnesses Potentially Linked to e-Cigarette Use

Robert R. Redfield, MD, director for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ned Sharpless, MD, acting US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, have issued a statement on federal and state collaboration to investigate respiratory illnesses reported after the use of e-cigarettes. 

Robert R. Redfield, MD, director for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ned Sharpless, MD, acting US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, have issued a statement on federal and state collaboration to investigate respiratory illnesses reported after the use of e-cigarettes. 

“We were deeply saddened last week to learn of the death of an adult in Illinois who had been hospitalized with a severe respiratory illness following the use of an e-cigarette product. We are working closely with state and local health officials to investigate these incidents as quickly as possible, and we are committed to taking appropriate actions as a clearer picture of the facts emerges,” the statement reads. 

As of August 27, 2019, 215 possible cases have been reported from 25 states, and additional reports of pulmonary illness are under investigation. 

With assistance from the FDA, the CDC is helping involved states investigate whether the illnesses may be linked to specific devices, ingredients, or contaminants in the devices, or substances associated with e-cigarette product use. Current assistance to states includes deploying CDC staff to Illinois and Wisconsin to assist their state health departments with the respective state investigations; releasing a Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) Clinical Action Alert describing this investigation and asking providers to report possible cases to their state health departments; developing and distributing to involved states a standardized case definition, medical chart abstraction form, and case interview questionnaire with input from states  who are running investigations; reviewing and providing feedback on data collection and health messaging tools for states; and facilitating information sharing between states with possible cases.

In addition to daily meetings between the federal agencies, as well as frequent communication with state health officials, the FDA will continue to provide laboratory assistance. The FDA has received about 80 samples to test and continues to receive requests from states to analyze samples. These represent a variety of products and substances—a number of which contained incomplete information about the product. The FDA is analyzing samples for their contents, whether they contain nicotine, substances such as THC or other cannabinoids, or other chemicals and ingredients. The test results will be shared with the respective states to aid in their investigations and help inform the federal response.

According to the statement, “More information is needed to better understand whether there’s a relationship between any specific products or substances and the reported illnesses. At this time, there does not appear to be one product involved in all of the cases, although THC and cannabinoids use has been reported in many cases. At this time, the specific substances within the e-cigarette products that cause illness are not known and could involve a variety of substances. We continue to gather information about the names of the products used, where they were purchased, and how the products were used.”

Read the full statement at: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/s0830-statement-e-cigarette.html.

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