Tuesday January 21, 2020

American Medical Association Urges Americans to Stop Using Electronic Cigarettes of Any Sort

The recommendation followed advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday for people

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American, Medical, Electronic Cigarettes
A man uses a vape as he walks on Broadway in New York City, September 9, 2019. VOA

The American Medical Association on Monday urged Americans to stop using electronic cigarettes of any sort until scientists have a better handle on the cause of 450 lung illnesses and at least five deaths related to the use of the products.

The AMA, one of the nation’s most influential physician groups, also called on doctors to inform patients about the dangers of e-cigarettes, including toxins and carcinogens, and swiftly report any suspected cases of lung illness associated with e-cigarette use to their state or local health department.

The recommendation followed advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday for people to consider not using e-cigarette products while it investigates the cause of the spate of severe lung illnesses associated with vaping.

Many, but not all, of the cases have involved those who used the devices to vaporize oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis.

American, Medical, Electronic Cigarettes
The American Medical Association on Monday urged Americans to stop using electronic cigarettes of any sort until scientists have a better handle on the cause of 450 lung illnesses. Pixabay

CDC officials said some laboratories have identified vitamin E acetate in product samples and are investigating that as a possible cause of the illnesses.

Public health experts have not found any evidence of infectious diseases and believe the lung illnesses are probably associated with a chemical exposure.

Megan Constantino, 36, from St. Petersburg, Florida, quit vaping six days ago after hearing reports of the illnesses and deaths related to vaping.

“It scared me into quitting,” she said.

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Like many users of vaping pens, Constantino picked up the device after quitting cigarette smoking three years ago, and said, “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

She added, “I threw the last cartridge away. I took a picture of it and I literally cried.”

Constantino said many people who vape have been “on pins and needles” for the investigation results, and she is concerned that the reports of a link to vaping THC may give people an excuse to ignore the warnings.

E-cigarettes are generally thought to be safer than traditional cigarettes, which kill up to half of all lifetime users, the World Health Organization says. But the long-term health effects of vaping are largely unknown.

American, Medical, Electronic Cigarettes
The AMA, one of the nation’s most influential physician groups, also called on doctors to inform patients about the dangers of e-cigarettes, including toxins and carcinogens. Pixabay

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has faced mounting pressure to curb a huge spike in teenage use of e-cigarettes, a trend that coincided with the rising popularity of Juul e-cigarettes.

“We must not stand by while e-cigarettes continue to go unregulated. We urge the FDA to speed up the regulation of e-cigarettes and remove all unregulated products from the market,” AMA president Dr. Patrice Harris, said in a statement.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, which advocates for cigarette smokers to switch to nicotine-based vaping devices, said the AMA should be “ashamed of themselves for playing politics with people’s health and protecting the profits of drug dealers.”

He criticized the AMA for “fearmongering about nicotine vaping products” while not mentioning “the very real risks of vaping illicit THC products.”

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Juul Labs declined to comment. Altria Group Inc owns a 35 percent stake in Juul. (VOA)

Next Story

WHO Aims to Make Breast Cancer Treatment Affordable

WHO Moves Step Closer to Cheaper Breast Cancer Treatment

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Breast Cancer
WHO tries to make breast cancer treatment affordable to women globally. Pixabay

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Wednesday that it had for the first time approved a “biosimilar” medicine — one derived from living sources rather than chemicals — to make breast cancer treatment affordable to women globally.

The trastuzumab drug has shown “high efficacy” in curing early-stage breast cancer and in some cases more advanced forms of the disease, WHO said in a statement.

But the annual cost of the original drug is an average of $20,000, “a price that puts it out of reach of many women and healthcare systems in most countries,” the statement added.

However, the biosimilar version of trastuzumab is generally 65 percent cheaper than the original.

“With this WHO listing, and more products expected in the prequalification pipeline, prices should decrease even further,” WHO said.

The cheaper but equally effective biotherapeutic medicines are produced from biological sources such as cells rather than synthesized chemicals.

They are usually manufactured by companies after the patent on the original product has expired.

“WHO prequalification of biosimilar trastuzumab is good news for women everywhere,” said WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

A radiologist examines breast X-rays
A radiologist examines breast X-rays after a cancer prevention medical check-up at the Ambroise Pare hospital in Marseille, southern France. VOA

“Women in many cultures suffer from gender disparity when it comes to accessing health services. In poor countries, there is the added burden of a lack of access to treatment for many, and the high cost of medicines.

“Effective, affordable breast cancer treatment should be a right for all women, not the privilege of a few,” he added.

WHO prequalification 

A few biosimilars of trastuzumab have come on the market in recent years, but none had previously been prequalified by WHO.

WHO prequalification gives countries the assurance that they are purchasing “quality health products.”

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“We need to act now and try to avoid more preventable deaths,” said Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director general for Medicines and Health Products.

“The availability of biosimilars has decreased prices, making even innovative treatments more affordable and hopefully available to more people.” (VOA)