The Federal Trade Commission just announced a series of six settlements that included individual fines for false advertising by cannabidiol (CBD) companies. The target companies claimed that a variety of products containing CBD, including oils, balms, gums, coffee, and other merchandise, could treat cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions.
Operation CBDeceit – the first law enforcement action against misleading CBD claims – serves as a clear reminder of the restrictions on health claims in advertising. The FTC has long followed a policy that requires advertisers to have reliable scientific evidence to support health claims made to the public. CBD companies are no exception and must have proven support for health claims.
The FTC’s most recent settlement list referred to unsubstantiated health claims made by CBD manufacturers, including but not limited to the following:
- “It has been medically proven that CBD oil positively regulates your ECS [endocannabinoid system] Affect problems like anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, high blood pressure and even cardiovascular problems. “
- “CBD can make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells.”
- “The cannibinoids have a particular application as neuroprotective agents, for example in limiting neurological damage after ischemic insults such as stroke and trauma or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and HIV dementia.”
- “Some of the most important health benefits  CBD oil is known to cure seizures, anxiety, depression, and cancer-related symptoms. It has even been shown to aid in drug abuse treatment and diabetes prevention. “
- “If you or someone you love has diabetes, try using CBD oil for treatment. Not only is it safer than the most popular diabetes drugs, but it is also more effective. CBD oil can prevent diabetes and obesity, treat insulin resistance, and help with the chronic skin sensitivity often associated with diabetes. “
The regulatory orders proposed by the FTC to settle the fees do not prohibit manufacturers from making health claims in the future. However, future claims for prevention, treatment, or safety related to dietary supplements, foods, and medications must be supported by competent and reliable evidence, which is defined as randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trials to support the claims.
To learn more about Squire Patton Boggs’ labeling and advertising compliance and legal disputes, please contact Marisol Mork (Marisol.Mork@squirepb.com) or Eleanor Hagan (Eleanor.Hagan@squirepb.com).