What pharmacists need to know about cannabidiol
Community pharmacists can be an important source of information about cannabidiol (CBD) but they also need to ensure that the CBD products that they sell are correctly licensed and labelled, according to Moyra Cosgrove, Head of Nutrition for Naturecan, a company that produces and markets a Broad-Spectrum CBD Distillate.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has categorised CBD as a ‘novel food’ and, as such, it requires a license. Any company selling consumer CBD products had to submit a Novel Food Application (NFA) to the FSA the by 31st March 2021, in order for its products to remain legally on sale.
A ‘novel food’ has been defined as something that was not regularly consumed before 1997. One example of a novel food is chia seeds and a more recent example is migratory locust food supplement (approved in November 2021).
The validation of CBD products by the FSA is still ongoing. Once validated, the licensing process will enter a full risk-assessment phase, to be completed before a license can be issued. However, products undergoing this regulatory review are permitted to remain on sale in the UK.
Ms Cosgrove says, “The community pharmacist really does play an important role in talking to their customers when they’re asked questions about CBD ..……. and that is because they’re in a unique position of trust within the community. People are much more likely to go there than to ask someone in [a supermarket] ….. where they might see it on sale. They’ll go to the pharmacist because they know they’ll get advice that will help them keep safe – and [the pharmacist] will suggest a credible product.”
Pharmacists should take steps to ensure that the brand of CBD that they stock meets all the regulatory requirements. Ms Cosgrove suggests that the following questions should be asked of a potential supplier:
- Has the company submitted a NFA and what is their application number (It should start with RP followed by a number)?
- Has the company carried out toxicology testing on their brand?
- Does the company provide links (on its website) to their Certificates of Analysis for each batch of their products?
- Check that the company is not making any medical claims (e.g to treat, prevent or cure a condition) and that the maximum 70mg/day dosage is clear.
Moyra Cosgrove is Head of Nutrition for Naturecan. Her main focus is consumer CBD and she is responsible for the Novel Food Application to the UK Food Standards Agency for Naturecan’s Broad Spectrum CBD Distillate. She also advises on the nutritional aspects of Naturecan’s product range and manages the research programme partnership with Liverpool John Mores University.