No time to read this now?
Download a PDF version… just enter your details below:
CBD, Medical Claims and the MHRA
You’ve no doubt seen them everywhere – CBD companies claiming that CBD helps or even cures everything from anxiety, skin disorders, nerve pain, and dare I say it; cancers.
While there may be evidence and medical research papers to support these claims, currently no CBD product carries a marketing authorisation from the MHRA which means it’s illegal to make such claims.
Why is it so important that CBD companies DO NOT make medical claims?
Time after time I am having to explain to our clients and prospective clients that as an industry we need to “pull our socks up”, else the whole industry will come crashing down.
“But this CBD company is making medical claims, and that CBD company is, too.” is the usual response I get. And, while this is very true, we are always explaining in great depth why it is that the C Word will not produce any copy for our clients that leaves them exposed legally.
The MHRA’s guidelines on what CBD companies can, and can’t say:
Below I have shared, word-for-word what the MHRA’s guidelines are on making medical claims when selling CBD products. It’s vitally important that CBD professionals read, digest and understand this.
Yes, it’s annoying, especially when CBD has so many known benefits already, but the medical licencing laws are there for very good reason. Medical products understandably need to go through stringent licencing processing to take them to market.
The below guidance applies to CBD brands and any paid affiliates of the brand, incentivised endorsers of the brand and for the customer reviews that are published by the brand.
About the MHRA
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ensures that both medicines and medical devices work and are safe. It is the executive agency of the UK's Department of Health and Social Care responsible for products classed as CBD sold in the UK. It also issues guidelines on what can and cannot be said when advertising medicine or healthcare products.
MHRA guidelines on advertising CBD in the UK
In general, to stay compliant with the MHRA guidelines, CBD merchants in the UK MUST NOT:
• Make or infer in any written form and/or published articles medical claims with regard to CBD. This includes company names/logos, hashtags, links and any shared testimonials/reviews
• Make any unapproved health claims or wellbeing claims
• Link to sites/platforms which present CBD as a medicine
• Link to sites/platforms where customers can obtain more information about CBD and its uses
More specifically, CBD merchants in the UK are NOT permitted to:
• Make any explicit medical claims about their CBD products
• Offer any advice, nor offer CBD to treat any specific condition
• Link to sites/platforms that promote 'cancer cures' or other medicinally bias sites/platforms
• Publish articles which imply that CBD can or has been used to treat any illness
• Suggest customers talk to any medical professional
• Use any graphics, imagery or product names that imply CBD is a medicine
• Make comparisons with licensed medicines
• Make references to medical and/or clinical research and testing
• Make references to the health risks of not taking CBD
• Publish editorial medical claims
• Publish recommendations by Doctors/healthcare professionals
• Publish testimonials that include/imply medicinal claims
• Make references to or reproduce 'generic' information on CBD
• Make references to medical conditions major to minor, including colds, headaches, cuts and bruises, spots, smoking addiction, obesity, arthritis, depression, stress and all childhood disorders and serious diseases
• Make references to conditions of the mind such as depression, addictions, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, etc.
• Make references to the treatment or alleviation of adverse conditions, including decongests, relieves pain, reduces inflammation, calms, stops itching, cures insomnia, reduces blood pressure or reduces blood sugar levels
• Make references to the symptoms of disease such as pain, inflammation, etc.
The following words or phrases (not exhaustive) should be avoided to comply with MHRA guidelines on advertising CBD in the UK:
Clinical trials evidence
Helps body adjust after crossing time zones
Help maintain a normal mood balance
Help maintain a normal water balance
Increases metabolic rate
Is said to help with
Stimulates the nervous system
Stops craving for
Strengthens the immune system
Strips off sun-damaged precancerous cells
A claim to treat, prevent or correct disease or an adverse condition
Traditionally used for
*The intended and implied meaning of the above words/phrases are taken in context by the MHRA when determining whether they are a medical claim, i.e. considered together with the surrounding words.
NOTE: These guidelines apply to ALL published materials, including product, packaging, website, social media (posting, commenting, sharing), customer communications and advertising. The inclusion of a disclaimer on any site/platform also does NOT exempt merchants from the above guidelines.
What is allowed?
CBD merchants in the UK ARE allowed to:
• Make claims to 'maintain' 'help to maintain' or 'support' health, healthy bodily functions or organs
However, any reference to restore, or help to restore a specific bodily function or organ to a normal healthy state is NOT allowed.
How can the C Word help?
The bottom line is that companies selling CBD need to be extremely careful with all communications related to their CBD products.
If your CBD company is interested in keeping on the right side of the law, it would be a good very idea to hire a specialist CBD marketing agency, like the C Word, for help with the creation of your website copy, brand or product names, advertising and marketing content.
More From the C Word...
The UN calls for a ban on cannabis advertising in all member states. Canna-brands are seeing it as a kind of death knell for the industry…
The Novel Foods Regulations 2018 are a set of rules introduced by the EU to protect consumers from potentially dangerous foods and ingestible substances. What do the rules require of CBD companies?
Thanks to the nominations and the judging panel at Global Health and Pharma, we’ve been awarded the Best Cannabis Digital Marketing Specialists – UK, for 2020!
Tel: +44 (0) 1237 730213