Overnight Health Care

Welcome to Friday’s Overnight Health Care.

More vaping fallout: Walmart is taking a stance and will not longer sell e-cigarettes. And on Capitol Hill, senators want FDA to enact a near total ban immediately. Also on drug pricing, at least one House Democrat wants changes to Speaker Pelosi’s bill.

We’ll start with vaping news…

Walmart to stop selling e-cigarettes

Walmart announced Friday it will stop selling e-cigarettes as federal and state governments crack down on the vaping industry. 

“Given the growing federal, state and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes, we plan to discontinue the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products at all Walmart and Sam’s Club U.S. locations,” a Walmart spokesperson said Friday. “We will complete our exit after selling through current inventory.”

It was a quick policy change for the nation’s largest retailer. It was just over two months ago that the corporation raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 in an attempt to prevent the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes to anyone under age. 

At the same time, the company said it was “in the process” of discontinuing the sales of fruit and dessert flavored vaping products. 

But last week, the Trump administration said it will remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market until they can be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration.

Walmart’s announcement of a full ban indicates the company just didn’t think it was worth the hassle of continuing to sell the products. 

State and federal health officials are also investigating a string of illnesses that have been tied to vaping. 

While the illnesses have not been tied to any specific e-cigarette brands, health officials are urging the public not to vape THC or buy vapes off the street or black market. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most of the people who have become sick said they vaped THC. Some said they vaped both nicotine and THC, while others said they have only vaped nicotine.

Seven people have died so far.

But some health experts say the illnesses are likely caused by black market products, not e-cigarettes sold in stores or online that are regulated by the government. 

The Food and Drug Administration said most of the products it has tested that contained THC also contained vitamin E acetate, a substance that can be harmful if inhaled into the lungs. 

The Vapor Technology Association, a trade group representing e-cigarette companies, criticized Walmart’s decision.

“The fact that Walmart is reducing access for adult smokers to regulated vapor products while continuing to sell combustible cigarettes is irresponsible. This will drive former adult smokers to purchase more cigarettes,” said Tony Abboud, the group’s executive director.