CDC says counterfeit THC vapes play major role in lung injury outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published its latest update on the outbreak of EVALI lung injury cases associated with electronic cigarettes and THC vapes. According to the agency, public health officials have found that products from multiple brands, including a number of counterfeits, were likely responsible for the outbreak. Officials also say that vitamin E acetate may not be the only compound contributing to the condition.

As the CDC has said over past months, the EVALI outbreak –which has claimed dozens of lives — has been linked primarily to the use of vapes that contain THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. It was difficult for public health officials to get information on these products due to patients' fears over the potentially illegal nature of them.

As of December 12, investigators had identified 152 vaping product brands that contained THC and were used by the patients. The most common brand of them all was 'Dank Vapes,' which the CDC says has an unknown origin and is 'largely counterfeit' in nature. This mysterious brand was most commonly used in the Southern and Northeastern US.

The CDC is once again warning that the public should avoid using THC-containing vapes, including ones that are homemade, sold by unknown people or friends, or from online sellers such as darknet markets. As well, the agency is warning that vitamin E acetate shouldn't be added to any product that'll be inhaled due to its harmful effects on the lungs.

In addition to vitamin E acetate, the CDC says officials are investigating a number of substances that may also contribute to the development of EVALI. Ultimately, though, the agency says THC vapes — mostly ones that come from online and individual in-person sellers — 'play a major role' in this deadly outbreak.