FDA cracks down on rogue CBD products touting unproven health claims

The FDA is trying to speed up its work to institute regulatory policies surrounding the rapidly growing CBD market while several companies sell products with unproven medical claims(Credit: Omstudio/Depositphotos)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cracking down on a number of companies selling cannabidiol (CBD) products accompanied by unsubstantiated health claims. The latest target is a company called Curaleaf, which sells CBD products that it claims can treat everything from cancer and Alzheimer’s, to anxiety and inflammation in dogs.

Alongside the booming new recreational marijuana market in some American states has been a rapidly growing industry in products containing marijuana-derived compounds. CBD in particular has become a source of great attention in the medical research community, showing promise as a therapeutic agent that can reduce epileptic seizures in children, treat insomnia, or even potentially function as a topical antibiotic.

The only legally approved therapeutic use of CBD currently is for the treatment of a rare form of epilepsy, under the brand name Epidiolex. And, while researchers are certainly exploring whether CBD is effective in treating a number of other conditions, some companies are taking advantage of this interstitial moment in time where the drug is somewhat unregulated.

The latest target of the FDA’s ire is Curaleaf Inc. The FDA’s recently-issued warning letter to the company cites a number of instances where products were sold with grand and scientifically unsupported claims. Some of the blatantly unfounded claims cited in the FDA warning include statements from Curaleaf suggesting, “CBD has been demonstrated to have properties that counteract the growth of [and/or] spread of cancer,” and, “CBD has been linked to the effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease …”

“As we examine potential regulatory pathways for the lawful marketing of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds like CBD, protecting and promoting public health remains our top priority,” says Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless in a statement. “Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims – such as claims that CBD products can treat serious diseases and conditions – can put patients and consumers at risk by leading them to put off important medical care.”

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