Nov. 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued warnings to four companies illegally marketing marijuana-based products billed as preventing, treating or curing cancer.
The FDA sent letters to Greenroads Health, Natural Alchemist, That's Natural! Marketing and Consulting, and Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises LLC who the agency says are illegally selling products online that allegedly contain cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical in marijuana that is not approved by the FDA in any 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," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA, said in a news release. "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."
The companies are allegedly marketing products containing CBD, including oils, teas, capsules, syrups, creams and lotions, they say can prevent, diagnose, treat or cure cancer -- even though there is no evidence to support these claims.
The sale and marketing of these products is a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and could pose a significant health risk if the products prevent patients with cancer from receiving proper medical treatment.
The FDA letters cite more than 25 products with claims such as "combats tumor and cancer cells," "CBD makes cancer cells commit suicide without killing other cells" and "inhibit cell division and growth with certain types of cancer," among others.
"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.
"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."
Companies that fail to correct violations will be subject to legal action by the FDA, the agency said.