FDA chief to testify before House panel Wednesday as surge of vaping-related illnesses continue

Sep 24, 2019
Press Release
Hearing comes as Congressional leaders – including the panel’s chair, Rep. Diana DeGette – demand answers to protect public’s health

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations panel, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), announced today that Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Ned Sharpless and principal deputy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Anne Schuchat, will be among those testifying when the subcommittee holds its hearing Wednesday, Sept. 25, on the recent surge of vaping-related illnesses across the country.

The hearing comes as federal and state health officials continue to search for answers as to what has caused the sudden spike of illnesses that has now affected at least 530 people in 38 states and one territory. On Friday, health officials in Missouri confirmed that an eight person has now died because of lung-complications linked to the use of e-cigarettes.

“This recent surge in vaping-related illnesses shows exactly why more federal regulation of these vaping products is so important,” DeGette said. “No one who uses these products knows what they are inhaling into their bodies, or how it might affect their health. We can, and must, do more to protect the health of the American people. Our committee is determined to find out exactly what is causing these life-threatening illnesses and what needs to be done to prevent them.”

Wednesday’s hearing will be Sharpless’s first appearance before Congress since the outbreak of the mysterious lung illnesses began. Together, the FDA and CDC are the two primary federal agencies responsible for finding the cause of the illnesses and what needs to be done to prevent them.

DeGette, whose panel directly oversees the FDA and CDC – the two primary agencies leading the investigation into the illnesses – said that in addition to investigating the surge of vaping-related illnesses affecting hundreds of people around the country, the panel is also looking at the overall health impact of vaping products and their appeal to young people.

DeGette introduced legislation earlier this year to ban the sale of kid-friendly flavored nicotine products that are often used in e-cigarettes, which many experts say has led to the rise in the number of teens now vaping, and which some doctors believe could be linked to the recent surge in illnesses.

DeGette also introduced a separate piece of legislation this year that would raise the nationwide smoking age, for both traditional and e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21.

Wednesday’s hearing on the vaping-related illnesses will begin at 10:00 a.m. EDT in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

It will also be streamed LIVE here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vvDRxmrIlw

Here’s a full list of the witnesses that will be testifying at the hearing:

Panel one

Dr. Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS, RET)

Principal Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Norman E. Sharpless, MD

Acting Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

Panel two

Dr. Monica Bharel, MD, MPH

Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, MD, MPH

State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MD, MPH

Chief Deputy Director for Health and Chief Medical Executive, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Lee Norman, MD, MHS, MBA

Secretary, Kansas Department of Health and Environment