On October 10, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a joint warning letter to Florida-based Rooted Apothecary, LLC, for selling cannabidiol (CBD) products with unsubstantiated claims that the products treat or cure a variety of serious diseases and health conditions, including claims that the products treat certain conditions in infants. The warning letter reflects the FDA’s continuing concern over CBD products marketed for therapeutic or medical uses, and emphasizes the FDA’s concern over CBD products marketed for use by infants and/or children.
The FDA found various products marketed by Rooted Apothecary to be unapproved new drugs because the company’s website and its social media website included claims that the products are intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, PTSD, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cancer, and diabetes.
In addition, the FDA found that Rooted Apothecary unlawfully marketed certain CBD products as dietary supplements. As noted in previous warning letters, the FDA considers products containing CBD to be excluded from the definition of dietary supplements because CBD is the active ingredient in the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex, and CBD was not marketed as a dietary supplement or conventional food prior to the authorization of the clinical investigations of Epidiolex.
The FDA was particularly concerned that Rooted Apothecary markets certain CBD products to infants and children. For example, the company claimed that the “Teeth/TMJ – Essential Oil + CBD Infusion” product will “help calm the inflammation and pain of teething, while also promoting sleepiness for your little one.” The “Ears – Essential Oil + CBD Infusion” product included the claim, “We formulated this for the entire family including our precious little ones.” Further, the company’s website included webpages with statements such as “CBD oil . . . seems like an attractive and safe option for children” and “children can use high amounts of CBD safely and without any risk.”
Regarding the warning letter, Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D., said, “We are working to protect Americans from companies marketing products with unsubstantiated claims that they prevent, diagnose, treat or cure a number of diseases or conditions. This is especially concerning when companies are peddling unproven CBD products for use in vulnerable populations like infants and children.” Dr. Sharpless added, “We’ve sent numerous warning letters that focus on matters of significant public health concern to CBD companies, and these actions should send a message to the broader market about complying with FDA requirements.”
The FTC warned Rooted Apothecary that it is concerned that the company lacks the requisite “competent and reliable scientific evidence” to substantiate claims that its products can prevent, treat or cure human disease.
This latest warning letter from the FDA and FTC again highlights the potential pitfalls of marketing CBD products without a thorough understanding of the unsettled and complex regulatory environment for such products. If you need assistance navigating the regulatory environment for CBD or other cannabis-derived products, contact Frier Levitt today to speak with an attorney.