By Mike Stobbe, Associated Press
(AP) — Health officials investigating a nationwide outbreak of vaping illnesses have listed, for the first time, the vape brands most commonly linked to hospitalizations.
Most of the 2,300 people who suffered lung damage had vaped marijuana concentrates purchased via the black market. However, 13% of patients said they vaped only nicotine.
In a report released Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed the products most often cited by patients, noting that some of them said they vaped more than one.
Dank Vapes was the brand used by most of the hospitalized patients nationwide. Dank is not a product coming from one business, it is empty packaging that can be ordered from Chinese internet sites where illicit vaporizer cartridge makers can buy the empty packages and then fill them with whatever they choose.
Four product names at the top of the list from CDC were:
- Dank (56%)
- TKO (15%)
- Smart Cart (13%)
- Rove (12%)
“It’s not likely that a single brand is responsible for this outbreak,” said Brian King, a senior CDC official on the investigation.
Some of the brands cited by the CDC are sold in states with legalized marijuana. But counterfeits of those legitimate brands have flooded the market around the country, forcing some to redesign their packaging.
Bill Loucks, co-founder of TKO Products, said his company sells only to licensed dispensaries in California, but the company gets emails asking about TKO-branded cartridges purchased elsewhere.
“If you bought them outside of California … you are the proud owner of fakes,” Loucks said in an email.
Last month, CDC officials said they had narrowed in on a culprit — a chemical compound called vitamin E acetate that has been commonly found in the lungs of sick patients and in the products they vaped.
The CDC also said Friday that the worst of the outbreak may be over. Preliminary data indicates hospitalizations peaked in mid-September and have been declining since, officials said.