The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings because of four companies that are marketing unproven marijuana-based products as preventing, treating or even curing cancer. That is an illegal act because the claims are unsubstantiated. The FDA sent letters were sent to Greenroads Health, Natural Alchemist, That's Natural! Marketing and Consulting and Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises LLC. The products being sold online by these companies supposedly contain a chemical found in marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD), which has not been approved by the FDA as a drug product for any condition.
"Substances that contain components of marijuana will be treated like any other products that make unproven claims to shrink cancer tumors," said FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. "We don't let companies market products that deliberately prey on sick people with baseless claims that their substance can shrink or cure cancer and we're not going to look the other way on enforcing these principles when it comes to marijuana-containing products."
"There are a growing number of effective therapies for many cancers. When people are allowed to illegally market agents that deliver no established benefit they may steer patients away from products that have proven, anti-tumor effects that could extend lives."
Many products that contain CBD have entered the market, like teas, oils, syrups, capsules, creams, and lotions. They are being sold as therapeutics that can reverse or halt cancer, or other serious diseases including Alzheimer’s. There is, however, no evidence to back up these sweeping pronouncements that are unfortunately directed at very vulnerable people.
Not only is the sale and marketing of these items a clear violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, it could also be putting people’s health in serious jeopardy. People may be seeking out and using these kinds of drugs instead of obtaining medical care from health professionals, which could seriously hinder a patient’s ability to get well.
"We recognize that there's interest in developing therapies from marijuana and its components, but the safest way for this to occur is through the drug approval process -- not through unsubstantiated claims made on a website," Gottlieb said.
The FDA has sent over 90 letters in the past ten years to address this issue. The agency noted that over 25 products have been sold as inhibitors of “cell division and growth with certain types of cancer,” which contain a chemical that “combats tumor and cancer cells” because "CBD makes cancer cells commit suicide without killing other cells.”
The FDA is not against products that contain chemicals derived from marijuana; they only want to make sure they are safe and effective before being sold to people who need help. "We support sound, scientifically-based research using components derived from marijuana, and we'll continue to work with product developers who are interested in bringing safe, effective, and quality products to market,” Commissioner Gottlieb concluded.
Doctors and patients are encouraged to come forward if they have an adverse reaction, or quality issue with an “FDA-regulated drug, biologic, medical device, dietary supplement or cosmetic.” Their MedWatch program also looks for counterfeit medical devices.