FDA raids Juul offices; seizes thousands of documents on kid-friendly marketing

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Tuesday that it has conducted a surprise raid on the offices of Juul Labs in San Francisco, seizing thousands of documents related to the vaping vendor’s marketing and sales strategies.  At the heart of the issue is whether Juul has been secretly and deliberately targeting underage students in its advertising efforts which may have helped the e-cig maker to capture nearly 73 percent of the market share.

In contrast, Juul’s national sales percentage was only about 29 percent of total e-cig sales in December 2017 according to a statement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  In fact, sales of juuls e-cigs rose an astonishing 641 percent in 2017 alone, according to the CDC.  This consistent rise in market sales has attracted the attention of the FDA in recent months, which culminated most recently in April when the FDA opened a new probe into Juul and four other major manufacturers. 

Related Article: Citing teen vaping as an ‘epidemic,’ FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb launches investigation

According to a published statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb just two weeks ago, retailers Juul, Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu and Logic 60 had only until mid-November to provide proof of their legitimate plans to prevent underage sales and usage.  They were also demanded to provide prior product marketing materials and company research regarding e-cig appeal among teenagers.

FDA raids on Juul Labs shocking but not surprising

Apparently, the FDA was unwilling to wait until the new probe was complete because the surprise raid of Juul Labs took place last week.  The specific reasons for what triggered this renewed urgency to take immediate action against Juul before the 60-day deadline has expired are as yet somewhat unclear.  Furthermore, the FDA also inspected several of Juul’s contract facilities during the same timeframe to ensure proper adherence to FDA protocols.  In a statement to NBC News, FDA officials claim that the surprise inspection of Juul was necessary to obtain "further documentation related to Juul's sales and marketing practices, among other things."

“The Juul inspection, which we completed on Friday, sought further documentation related to Juul’s sales and marketing practices among other things, and resulted in the collection of over a thousand pages of documents…”
“The inspection followed the agency’s request for information that we issued to Juul Labs in April for documents that would help us to better understand the reportedly high rates of youth use and the youth appeal of Juul products, including documents related to marketing and product design.”

The Verge is also reporting that Juul Labs had already turned over about 50,000 documents to the FDA since the announcement of the new probe in April and prior to the surprise raid last week.  CEO Kevin Burns also states that the company has also been in regular communications with FDA officials in the days leading up to the raid while providing “information about our business from our marketing practices to our industry-leading online age-verification protocols to our youth prevention efforts.”

Related Article:  Former Trump Official: FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb has ‘lost his mind’ over vaping ban

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