Politicizing COVID-19: FDA denies Dems request for temporary vape ban
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is denying a request by the House of Representatives Committee on Oversite and Reform to issue an immediate ban on the sales of vapor products. The anti-vaping campaign was spearheaded by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois), chairman of the House Economic and Consumer Policy subcommittee.
The FDA is currently under extreme political pressure from both sides of the aisle to quickly approve several pending applications for various coronavirus testing kits and methodologies manufactured by different Big Pharma companies. The agency is also facing accusations by several public health experts that its years-long focus on vaping as an “epidemic” may have contributed to the FDA’s lackluster response during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.
FDA revises stance on vaping vs. coronavirus
In late March, the FDA asked a federal court to allow a four-month postponement of the Premarket Tobacco Applications (PMTA) process deadline to September 9. It is not the first time that the PMTA deadline has been delayed or extended since its rollout during the 2016 FDA deeming regulations which reclassified nicotine-based vapes as “tobacco products.” The courts are expected to rule in favor of granting the FDA delay any day now.
In a April 1 letter addressed to FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn, Rep. Krishnamoorthi asked the FDA to issue a temporary ban on the sales of all vapor products during that four-month PMTA postponement. To support his argument further, the Illinois lawmaker reference statements by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) which claim that “vaping and smoking present serious risks for coronavirus patients.”
However, the FDA seems to disagree with the NIDA’s assertions. The FDA not only denied Krishnamoorthi request via a press release published on the Oversight Committee’s website, but it also said that the agency would continue to move forward with the PMTA process even should the four-month postponement be granted by the courts.
The news came just two days after the FDA modified its public stance on the coronavirus and vaping. According to an April 15 report in Bloomberg News, the FDA said, “E-cigarette use can expose the lungs to toxic chemicals, but whether those exposures increase the risk of Covid-19 is not known.”
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