More companies warned about illegal CBD advertising

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Posted 26 October 2019

In September, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned three unnamed companies marketing cannabidiol (CBD)-containing products that it is illegal to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease without competent and reliable scientific evidence to support such claims. CBD is a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant.
Reference: FTC sends warning letters to companies advertising their CBD-infused products as treatments for serious diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis. FTC press release, Sept 10, 2019

According to the FTC:

  • One company’s website claimed that CBD “works like magic” to relieve “even the most agonizing pain” better than prescription opioid painkillers. To bolster its claims that CBD has been “clinically proven” to treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), fibromyalgia, cigarette addiction, and colitis, the company states it has participated in “thousands of hours of research” with Harvard researchers.
  • Another company’s website claimed that CBD products have been proven to treat autism, anorexia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, MS, fibromyalgia, cancer, and AIDS. The company also advertised CBD as a “miracle pain remedy” for both acute and chronic pain, including pain from cancer treatment and arthritis.
  • The third company’s website promoted CBD gummies as highly effective at treating “the root cause of most major degenerative diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, fibromyalgia, cancer, asthma, and a wide spectrum of autoimmune disorders.” The company also claimed that its CBD cream relieves arthritis pain and that its CBD oil may effectively treat depression, PTSD, epilepsy, heart disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and asthma.

This month, the FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a joint warning letter to Rooted Apothecary, LLC for selling CBD products online with unsubstantiated claims that the products can treat autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, among other conditions.
Reference: FTC and FDA warn Florida company marketing CBD products about claims related to treating autism, ADHD, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other medical conditions. FTC press release, Oct 22, 2019

As described in the letter, the Florida-based company used its online store and social media sites to make health and efficacy claims that included:

  • “Increasing evidence suggests that CBD oil is a powerful option for pain . . . anxiety . . . and autism . . . It seems like an attractive and safe option for children.”
  • “CBD oil may have neuroprotective properties and may protect against neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.”
  • “Possible uses for CBD include helping with skin problems such as acne, autism, ADHD, and even cancer. It’s often used in conjunction with traditional treatments to provide extra help. Children can use high amounts of CBD safely and without any risk.”

Earlier this year, the FTC and FDA issued similar joint warning letters to three other CBD sellers.

Source: Consumer Health Digest #19-43, October 27, 2019

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