With weeks to go in his tenure, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb squared off with two companies at the center of his efforts to halt a surge in teen vaping.
Gottlieb, who plans to leave his post on April 5, said at an event in Washington that he had a contentious meeting last week with executives from Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc and Juul Labs Inc.
Late last year, Altria took a US$12.8 billion stake in Juul, maker of a popular vaping device, at the same time that the companies had promised to increase efforts to keep kids from getting hooked on e-cigarettes.
Miffed by the transaction, Gottlieb had summoned the companies to Washington to provide answers.
“The e-cigarette industry has been overly dismissive” of the risk that kids could become addicted to nicotine through e-cigarette use, Gottlieb said on Tuesday at the Brookings Institution. “We’re capturing an exploding epidemic right now.”
The FDA chief raised the possibility of temporarily pulling pod-based nicotine products off the market if youth vaping numbers continue to rise substantially.
Sales could resume if manufacturers can show that their devices are geared toward adult cigarette smokers trying to quit, and not kids.
“It was a difficult meeting,” the commissioner said, adding that there was a “disconnect” between the companies’ priorities and those of health officials.
He added that it appeared Altria’s decision to purchase a stake in Juul was purely a business decision and not driven by public health concerns.
Shares of Altria fell 2.2 percent to US$56.01 in New York on Tuesday, the biggest drop since January.
Altria and Juul did not specifically respond to Gottlieb’s characterization of the meeting.
Both companies said they remain committed to combating underage use of e-cigarettes.
“The FDA is going to have to very carefully calculate its action against the entire category of pod-based products,” Gottlieb said.
If the vaping products are pulled from the market, the FDA could allow the companies to resume selling them after a review, he said.
The agency is working on defining exactly what constitutes a pod-based product in case it needs to take such action, he added.
Gottlieb also said the FDA’s proposed rule to cut nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels would likely be ready for review by the administration of US President Donald Trump this summer.
Doing so could cause about 5 million adult smokers to quit smoking in the first year of adoption, the FDA has previously reported.
Separately, San Francisco officials on Tuesday proposed legislation that would ban the sale of e-cigarettes in the city and prohibit companies like Juul from occupying city-owned property, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The FDA last week released a draft guideline on its much-anticipated plan to limit the sales of most flavored e-cigarettes.
The proposal calls for enhancing enforcement against flavored e-cigarette sales in retail locations where a minor can enter at any time, such as a convenience store or gas station.
The restrictions would not apply to tobacco, mint or menthol-flavored e-cigarettes.
Gotlieb, who has taken heat from senators and industry leaders over a plan to ban menthol cigarettes, declined to comment specifically on next steps for the initiative following his departure.
However, he did say he thinks the long-term goal is to remove “characterizing flavors” from all tobacco products.
Just a few years ago, the millennial generation — generally defined as those born from the early 1980s through the mid-1990s — was synonymous with youthful rebellion. However, now, as the millennials ease into early middle age, they are finding their path out of their parents’ basement to be a lot harder than it was for earlier generations. The fundamental problem is that millennials are not building wealth. The wealth of the median US household headed by someone 35 or younger has actually shrunk in inflation-adjusted terms since the mid-2000s, even as the wealth of older Americans has continued to grow. An
Gogoro Inc (睿能創意) yesterday launched its first electric bicycle, the Gogoro Eeyo 1, in Taiwan, after unveiling the bike in New York in late May and in France on Tuesday. The company said it would also introduce the series in other European countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. The “Eeyo project” is the fourth of Gogoro’s eight projects that concentrate on smart transportation, which includes Gogoro’s electric scooter, battery swap system and electric scooter sharing service, company founder and chief executive officer Horace Luke (陸學森) told a media briefing in Taipei. “There are various types of city commuters. We will not
EXPERIMENTAL DRUG: While news about a COVID-19 vaccine is more eye-catching, developing a treatment would be more viable, the Senhwa boss said Senhwa Biosciences Inc (生華科) aims to raise NT$1.5 billion (US$50.57 million) by issuing 15 million new common shares in the third quarter of this year to fund the research of new drugs, including the experimental drug Silmitasertib for the treatment of COVID-19, the company said on Monday. That would be the firm’s largest fundraising effort after it raised more than NT$1.4 billion from an initial public offering on the Taipei Exchange (TPEX) in April 2017, chief financial officer Sarah Chang (張小萍) told the Taipei Times by telephone. The price of the new shares would depend on the firm’s average share price
NOT A PANACEA: Offering 5G services would not solve the problem of declining telecom incomes, chairman Sheih Chi-mau said, expecting a flat 5G telecom revenue Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) yesterday became the nation’s first telecom to debut its 5G services, offering tiered tariffs that include a threshold of NT$599 and flat rates, as it aims to switch half of its subscribers to the 5G network within three years. Subscribers would have unlimited data transmission for monthly fees starting at NT$1,399 — the same flat rate as when the company launched its 4G service in 2014 — and they can subscribe to the highest-rate plan for NT$2,699 per month for faster data transmission speeds and larger bandwidth, the company said. Data transmission speeds would be within the range