FDA Cracks Down on CBD Companies for Coronavirus Claims

FDA - Food and Drug Administration text on document above brown envelope and stethoscope. Healthcare or medical concept

If you’re interested in CBD and have been simultaneously keeping your ears to the ground for news about coronavirus (who hasn’t?), you may have noticed a few companies that have been making claims about their products’ ability to treat Covid-19.

“What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims.

If you’re interested in CBD and have been simultaneously keeping your ears to the ground for news about coronavirus (who hasn’t?), you may have noticed a few companies that have been making claims about their products’ ability to treat Covid-19.

We’ve all heard it said that the CBD industry is the “wild west” all over again. And that is true, for the most part. Neither the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) vet products for CBD content. Instead, it is left to customers to look for companies that voluntarily offer third party lab reports attesting to purity and potency.

But one thing the federal watchdogs don’t allow CBD companies to do is make false (or misleading) health claims about their products. And they’re cracking down on CBD companies that are out to exploit the coronavirus crisis.

In the most recent round of warning letters sent out in April, the FDA and FTC targeted several companies which made unfounded claims for their products. Among the seven companies called out were three CBD companies: Indigo Naturals, Native Roots Hemp, and CBD Online Store.

The companies’ coronavirus-related claims ranged from the entirely unfounded to the highly questionable. Native Roots Hemp’s website, for example, made the statement that “Cannabis Indica speeds up Recovery from Coronavirus.”

Other companies pointed to CBD’s possible antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties to conjecture that their products could help with coronavirus (or the anxiety it’s causing). These statements are, at this point, highly speculative since no studies have verified CBD’s effects on the disease.

However, at least three studies looking into CBD’s potential to treat Covid-19 are currently undergoing trials in three different Israeli hospitals. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are the focus of two of these studies, while the third will combine CBD with steroid treatment.

These studies are in the early stages, though, and unless they show definitive proof that CBD does help with symptoms, federal regulators aren’t tolerating any suggestion that a product like CBD could be a potential treatment for the disease.

“There already is a high level of anxiety over the potential spread of coronavirus,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons in a statement. “What we don’t need in this situation are companies preying on consumers by promoting products with fraudulent prevention and treatment claims. These warning letters are just the first step. We’re prepared to take enforcement actions against companies that continue to market this type of scam.”

These warning letters are a sign that federal regulators are taking health claims related to Covid-19 very seriously. The danger of consumers delaying or stopping legitimate medical treatment in favor of non-regulated substances is clearly a concern.

It will take time before we know if CBD can actually help with coronavirus. In the meantime, it’s worth pointing out that, regardless of the results of the ongoing clinical trials with CBD, any treatment of Covid-19 is best done under the care of a medical practitioner.

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