Vape Pen Lung Disease: Here’s What You Need to KnowSeptember 10, 2019
As of Monday, Sept. 9, the CDC has reported up to 450 cases in 33 states of severe acute respiratory distress syndrome possibly associated with a recently inhaled drug aerosol (commonly known as vaping). Five patients may have died from the condition. The deaths occurred in Illinois, Oregon, Indiana, California and Minnesota. Here’s what you need to know.
Should I Stop Vaping?
- If you own illicit vape cartridges, throw them away immediately. The CDC, FDA, and HHS advised consumers Thursday to avoid buying cannabis vapes or using products off the street. They are unregulated, untested, and could be contaminated.
- If you purchase an illicit market disposable vaporizer cartridge—either THC or nicotine—and it’s filled with the wrong additive at the wrong amount, using it carries the risk of immediately injuring your lungs. Three patients may have died as a result of tainted cartridges.
What Is the Suspected Diagnosis?
- In many cases, symptoms and treatment mirror a condition called lipoid pneumonia, previously found in patients who inhaled mineral oil.
What’s Causing It?
- We don’t know for certain, but New York health authorities have confirmed that synthetic vitamin E oil (tocopheryl-acetate) is tainting most seized vape carts in that state. Pen makers report using it because it’s a cheap thickener. The FDA is now specifically looking at forms of vitamin E oil. New York has subpoenaed three thickener-makers—Floraplex, Honey Cut, and Pure Dileunt—after tests showed all three products were tocopheryl-acetate.
- The FDA has received about 120 samples for testing. So far, they’ve found vitamin E acetate in 10 of the 18 THC samples. The FDA is testing seized carts for THC, nicotine, cutting agents called diluents, additives, pesticides, opioids, poisons, and toxins.
- Health officials have confirmed that among the tainted carts are ones with the brand names Chronic Carts, Dank Vapes, and West Coast Carts, but the condition is linked to multiple illicit market brands across multiple states.
Why Vitamin E Oil?
- As Leafly reported last week, a new diluent known as Honey Cut entered the illicit vape cart market in late 2018. The product, which dilutes THC oil without thinning the viscosity, is manufactured by an unknown company operating only with a web site. Officials at the terpene manufacturer True Terpenes, based in Portland, OR, told Leafly they tested Honey Cut earlier this year and found it to contain Vitamin E oil, aka tocopheryl-acetate. Two brands—Mr. Extractor of Oregon and Constance Therapeutics of California—told Leafly they’ve been selling forms of vitamin E oil into the vape cart market. Mr Extractor’s Drew Jones told Leafly he believes the oil is in 60% of carts in the US.
What Are the Symptoms?
What Are the Latest Numbers?
- This outbreak is akin to bathtub gin under alcohol prohibition. It is generally a creature of unlicensed markets where consumers have no legal alternative. It’s akin to recent Spice/K2…