How the FDA’s MDO Initially Affected Juul Sales

E-cigarette company’s marketing denial order later stayed
Photograph: Shutterstock

NEW YORK — Nicotine sales growth decelerated during the two-week period ending on July 16, according to a note from Goldman Sachs Managing Director Bonnie Herzog. The slowed growth was led by a sharp decline in e-cigarette category volumes following confusion around the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) marketing denial order (MDO) issued to Juul Labs on June 23, which was later suspended, she said.

“This comes against the backdrop of healthy, albeit slightly moderating price growth for total nicotine,” Herzog said, noting that income pressures on low-income consumers are mounting.

All-channel dollar sales for total nicotine during the two-week period were down just under 1%. Total e-cigarettes/vapor also declined, down 0.7% for the two weeks ending on July 16 in retail sales and 13.8% in volume.  

Dollar sales for Juul were down 26.7% for the two weeks ending on July 16 compared to the prior year, Herzog said, citing NielsenIQ all channel data, including convenience stores. Volume was down nearly 30%.

Some c-store category managers pulled Juul products from shelves after the FDA issued the company an MDO for the San Francisco-based company’s Juul device and four types of Juulpods. The agency claimed that Juul’s premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) lacked sufficient evidence regarding the toxicological profile of the products to demonstrate that marketing them would be appropriate for the protection of the public health. Juul, however, disputed this, and days later the FDA stayed the MDO decision for Juul, allowing its products to remain on the market while a further review takes place.

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