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CBD Companies Illegally Advertise Products for Children: FDA

Nov. 26, 2019, 5:19 PM

Companies peddling untested products containing cannabidiol—or CBD as it’s commonly known—are starting to market products intended for children and infants, the FDA said in its latest warning regarding the trendy “cure-all.”

So far the Food and Drug Administration has only approved one drug containing that chemical component of marijuana. That hasn’t stopped the rise of a vast market of CBD-infused products. Now the agency is in overdrive, trying to suss out how to safely regulate the compound while the industry is chomping at the bit to expand its business.

Until the agency outlines how to use CBD safely in consumer products, its primary focus is calling out companies that claim their cannabidiol products can cure cancer, antibiotic-resistant infections, diabetes, or other ailments. A batch of 15 warning letters sent this month to various companies is the agency’s latest action to curb illegal CBD marketing.

The letters also shine a light on a trend emerging among CBD companies: advertising products specifically for children or infants.

One company, CDRL Nutritional Inc., was marketing “CBD Softgels for Kids.” Infinite Product Company sold “Asteroid Gummies,” marketed as “a treat to your kid.” Kentucky-based Daddy Burt Hemp Co. advertised its CBD products as a way to treat “behavioral outbreaks, communication problems, anxiety, stress, and disruptive behavior in children diagnosed with autism,” according to the FDA’s warning letter. The agency said Oklahoma-based Natural Native LLC posted an article on Facebook titled “CBD for Brain-Damaged Babies?” citing a clinical trial testing CBD in newborns with brain damage caused by lack of oxygen that “means new hope for the million plus babies born each year with this condition.”

Federal regulators are already investigating the spike in youth vaping rates that many attribute to sweet “kid-friendly” flavors and marketing. The agency said Nov. 25 it is concerned with CBD companies marketing products for children and infants who “may be at greater risk for adverse reactions due to differences in the ability to absorb, metabolize, distribute or excrete a substance such as CBD.”

There’s little information about CBD products that aren’t FDA-approved, regulators said, and consumers could be exposing themselves to potential liver damage, dangerous drug interactions, and male fertility issues if pregnant women are using unregulated CBD products.

“We’ll continue to monitor the marketplace and take action as needed against companies that violate the law in ways that raise a variety of public health concerns,” Amy Abernethy, the agency’s principal deputy commissioner, said in a statement. “We recognize the significant public interest in CBD and we must work together with stakeholders and industry to fill in the knowledge gaps about the science, safety and quality of many of these products.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacquie Lee in Washington at jlee1@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Randy Kubetin at rkubetin@bloomberglaw.com