The Food And Drug Administration Regulations Essay

The Food And Drug Administration Regulations Essay

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The Food and Drug Administration regulations referred to in this story as pending, came out May 5. As expected, the rules require e-cigarette makers to put all products that came on the market after February 15, 2007, through an extremely costly, retroactive pre-market application process, that will likely put thousands of vaping entrepreneurs out of business. Companies have a two-year period to comply. The regulations also ban the sale of e-cigarettes to Americans under 18.

In the winter of 2008 Jan Verleur was living on the outskirts of Prague, working on a novel about three failed Internet entrepreneurs who invest their dwindling capital in an ecstasy-smuggling ring. It wasn’t exactly autobiographical, but Verleur, now 36, was writing from experience with failed ventures. His most recent had been an ambitious pornography business that lost $22 million of investors’ money, including $1.6 million of his own.

One day, as he was picking up a pack of smokes at a Vietnamese convenience store, he noticed a box of e-cigarettes. He tried one, and it leaked liquid into his mouth. “The technology wasn’t ready for market,” he says, “but the idea struck me as amazing.” Soon after, Dan Recio, his buddy and colleague in the porn business, persuaded him to return to the U.S. and take another crack at making money by satisfying a different human craving.

The nascent e-cig market was wide open. Startup costs were low, and regulation was nonexistent. The potential payoff looked huge: Vaping seemed poised to grow into an enormous global market for a healthier product. Invented in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist whose father had died of lung cancer, e-cigarettes use lithium-ion batteries to heat nicotine-laced liquid, turning it into a vapor that h...


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...r VMR had moved into a ten-story glass-and-steel office building in Miami, and revenue hit $19 million. Two years later, revenue ballooned to $75 million and the head count was at 180, split among Miami, Shenzhen, a distribution center in Prague and small offices in Hamburg, London, Moscow and Hong Kong. Then came two years of declining sales and growing concerns about regulation.
By 2013 there were rumblings that online sales of e-cigs might be banned in the U.S. Verleur responded by selling a limited number of products in brick-and-mortar stores, despite much lower margins. Meanwhile competitors, including NJoy, which had attracted investors like billionaires Sean Parker and Peter Thiel, were flooding the market and growing fast. Last December, anxious to strengthen his position before the FDA made its long-awaited move on regs, Verleur sold half of VMR to Huabao.

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