FDA Is Investigating 127 Incidents of Seizures Possibly Linked to Use of E-Cigarettes

Photo: Frank Franklin II (AP)

The Food and Drug Administration announced this week that it is investigating 127 reports of seizures or other neurological issues that may be linked to the use of e-cigarettes, a figure that has expanded by nearly 100 since the agency first announced its probe back in April.

The FDA said Wednesday in an update on its investigation that the incidents spanned a period between 2010 and 2019 and included episodes of tremors or fainting, which it said could be—but are not necessarily—related to seizures. While the number of incidents the agency is looking into has widened, the FDA was careful to note that they “do not necessarily indicate an increase in frequency or prevalence of such incidents.”

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The FDA said that it plans to continue releasing updates on the status of its investigation and encouraged the public to share any experiences of “unexpected health or product issues” through its online reporting portal.

“Although we still don’t have enough information to determine if e-cigarettes are causing these reported incidents, we believe it’s critical to keep the public updated on the information we’ve received based on the agency’s initial request for reports earlier this year,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement. “We appreciate the public response to our initial call for reports, and we strongly encourage the public to submit new or follow-up reports with as much detail as possible.”

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The FDA announced its investigation into a potential correlation between vaping and seizures earlier this year, at which time it said that voluntary reports collected by poison control centers and the FDA during the same 10-year period turned up 35 reported cases of seizures that specifically mentioned the use of e-cigarettes.

However, the FDA did note that of those 35 reports, a few cases were reported in individuals who had experienced prior seizures. In addition, a few cases listed the use of e-cig products with other substances that included amphetamines and weed, the agency said.

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Still, outgoing Commissioner Scott Gottlieb—an outspoken critic of what he calls an “epidemic” of teen vaping—said at the time that although a couple of dozen cases may seem insignificant when compared to the total number of people who use e-cig products, “we are nonetheless concerned by these reported cases.”

According to CNBC, Gottlieb this week said that while an uptick in reports was to be expected following the FDA’s initial announcement about the probe in April, “92 additional reports over that short period of a time is concerning.” Sharpless said that new and detailed reports would be “vital” to its ongoing investigation.

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“It is imperative that health care professionals, consumers, parents, teachers and other concerned adults, as well as youth and young adult users, report detailed information about any past or future incidents of seizures following e-cigarette use to the FDA,” he said. “We’re committed to monitoring this issue closely and taking additional steps as necessary to protect the public, especially our nation’s youth, from the dangers of e-cigarettes and other tobacco products.”

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