Federal agencies sent warning letters Tuesday to three companies that sell products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical component of marijuana and hemp, and claim to treat Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and other diseases.
The joint letters from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highlighted potential legal consequences of making “unsupported health and efficacy claims” in advertising and urged the companies to review all product claims to ensure they are supported with “reliable scientific evidence.”
CBD, though a marijuana derivative, is not associated with intoxication, according to a report by the World Health Organization.
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD,” the World Health Organization said in 2017.
The FDA and FTC letters said they are concerned, however, with claims that the products can alleviate symptoms or cure serious diseases. The federal agencies sent letters to officials associated with CBDPure, Diamond CBD and Relievus, which sell a variety of CBD products such as oils, infused gummies, creams and soft gels.
The FDA said examples of claims made by these companies include:
- “CBD successfully stopped cancer cells in multiple different cervical cancer varieties.”
- “For Alzheimer’s patients, CBD is one treatment option that is slowing the progression of that disease.”
- “CBD has demonstrated the ability to block spinal, peripheral and gastrointestinal mechanisms responsible for the pain associated with migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS and other related disorders”
The letters instruct the companies to notify the FTC within 15 days of their proof supporting the claims.
Young Lee, M.D., the CEO and president of Relievus, told AARP that “CBD products have been an excellent treatment option for some patients who have different types of pain disorders with chronic inflammation, anxiety and many other associated symptoms.” But he added that Relievus will “comply fully with the FDA.”
He said that with CBD, some patients have been able to avoid or decrease their use of opioid painkillers, which are addictive and have led to overdose deaths across the country.