Editor's Note
FDA and FTC issued this warning letter to Living Senior, LLC after reviewing the company's websites and observing the firm allegedly promoted CBD products to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people. Claims highlighted in the warning letter, include:

  • "Fight Viral Infections like Coronavirus"
  • "extremely beneficial effects on a population of people suffering influenza infection. Influenza kills using the same mechanism as does COV-19"

The agencies request that the company take immediate action to cease the sale of these alleged unapproved and unauthorized products or face legal action, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction. The agencies also stress that no COVID-19 study is currently known to exist for the products identified within the warning letter, so any coronavirus-related prevention or treatment claims regarding the product are considered to be not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
This is to advise you that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reviewed your websites at the Internet addresses www.blueribbonhemp.com and www.cbdseniors.com on August 7, 2020, and August 17, 2020, respectively. The FDA has observed that your website www.blueribbonhemp.com offers CBD products for sale in the United States and that these products are intended to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people. Based on our review, these products are unapproved new drugs sold in violation of section 505(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), 21 U.S.C. § 355(a). Furthermore, these products are misbranded drugs under section 502 of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 352. The introduction or delivery for introduction of these products into interstate commerce is prohibited under sections 301(a) and (d) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. § 331(a) and (d).

There is currently a global outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus that has been named “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” (SARS-CoV-2). The disease caused by the virus has been named “Coronavirus Disease 2019” (COVID-19). On January 31, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a declaration of a public health emergency related to COVID-19 and mobilized the Operating Divisions of HHS. In addition, on March 13, 2020, the President declared a national emergency in response to COVID-19. Therefore, FDA is taking urgent measures to protect consumers from certain products that, without approval or authorization by FDA, claim to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people. As described below, you sell products that are intended to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19 in people. We request that you take immediate action to cease the sale of such unapproved and unauthorized products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis, or cure of COVID-19.

Some examples of the claims on your websites that establish the intended use of your products and misleadingly represent them as safe and/or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 include:

  • “Dr. Bob Melamede discusses how NAC and CBD Fight Viral Infections like Coronavirus. . . Dr Bob also has a Web site called CBDSeniors.com, where you can find some of his work and what he does there, talking about mainstream CBD being available for the seniors and what pivotal role hemp and cannabis and CBD in all these goodies help as we're aging. We want these preventatives in in [sic] disease.” [from your website www.blueribbonhemp.com/blog/dr-bob-melamede-discusses-how-nac-and-cbd-fight-viral-infections-like-coronavirus/#]

  • “The attached article shows how high doses of NAC can have extremely beneficial effects on a population of people suffering influenza infection. Influenza kills using the same mechanism as does COV-19, excess free radical production induced ARDS (Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome).” [www.cbdseniors.com/study-attenuation-of-influenza-like-symptoms-with-nac-n-acetylcysteine-supplements/] 

  • “Dr. Bob’s Approach to Life & the Coronavirus COVID-19 . . . You can save many lives by understanding what I present to you. . . Corona infection disrupts free radical homeostasis. Fat burning, is an adaptive energy source for reducing excess free radicals, may aid viral development . . . NAC (n-acetyl cysteine) Is very neuro-protective. It recharges the major antioxidant glutathione and therefore will reduce excess free radical production to minimize cell death. CBD blocks CB1 and stimulates CB2 receptors which turn on fat burning.” [from your website www.cbdseniors.com/dr-bobs-approach-to-life-the-coronavirus-covid-19/]

  • “HOW TO DEAL WITH THE CORONAVIRUS [emphasis in original] WITH RICHARD COWAN . . . Why are People Hoarding Toiler Paper as a Result of the CoronaVirus [masked face emoji] (COVID-19)? . . . Now, on the other hand, there really are things that you should be stocking up on . . . CBD. Believe it or not, edible cannabis or edible CBD. The fact is that we know that cannabis has some antiviral activity, whether or not that will make the slightest difference for the Coronavirus, I have no idea. I’m not telling you to do this because this will cure or prevent that. But, we also know that it is anti-inflammatory. . . But to have an edible, a sublingual, you know, some form of cannabis (whole cannabis or CBD). This is something that you should have in your house, because most people, unless they’re really old like me, are at really very low risk of dying from the virus. But it only on the other hand is like a bad case of the flu; it makes people feel really, really bad. And so for just symptomatic relief, this is something that you should think about.” [from your website www.cbdseniors.com/why-are-people-hoarding-toilet-paper-as-a-result-of-the-coronavirus-%f0%9f%98%b7-covid-19/]

You should take immediate action to correct the violations cited in this letter. This letter is not meant to be an all-inclusive list of violations that exist in connection with your products or operations. It is your responsibility to ensure that the products you sell are in compliance with the FD&C Act and FDA's implementing regulations. We advise you to review your websites, product labels, and other labeling and promotional materials to ensure that you are not misleadingly representing your products as safe and effective for a COVID-19-related use for which they have not been approved by FDA and that you do not make claims that misbrand the products in violation of the FD&C Act. Within 48 hours, please send an email to COVID-19-Task-Force-CDER@fda.hhs.gov describing the specific steps you have taken to correct these violations. Include an explanation of each step being taken to prevent the recurrence of violations, as well as copies of related documentation.  Failure to immediately correct the violations cited in this letter may result in legal action, including, without limitation, seizure and injunction.

FDA is advising consumers not to purchase or use certain products that have not been approved, cleared, or authorized by FDA and that are being misleadingly represented as safe and/or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Your firm will be added to a published list on FDA’s website of firms and websites that have received warning letters from FDA concerning the sale or distribution of COVID-19 related products in violation of the FD&C Act. This list can be found at http://www.fda.gov/consumers/health-fraud-scams/fraudulent-coronavirus-disease-covid-19-products. Once you have taken corrective actions to cease the sale of your unapproved and unauthorized products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis, or cure of COVID-19, and such actions have been confirmed by the FDA, the published list will be updated to indicate that your firm has taken appropriate corrective action.

If you cannot complete corrective action within 48 hours, state the reason for the delay and the time within which you will complete the corrections. If you believe that your products are not in violation of the FD&C Act, include your reasoning and any supporting information for our consideration.

If you are not located in the United States, please note that products that appear to be misbranded or unapproved new drugs are subject to detention and refusal of admission if they are offered for importation into the United States. We may advise the appropriate regulatory officials in the country from which you operate that FDA considers your product(s) referenced above to be unapproved and misbranded products that cannot be legally sold to consumers in the United States. 

Please direct any inquiries to FDA at COVID-19-Task-Force-CDER@fda.hhs.gov.

In addition, it is unlawful under the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 41 et seq., to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease unless you possess competent and reliable scientific evidence, including, when appropriate, well-controlled human clinical studies, substantiating that the claims are true at the time they are made. For COVID-19, no such study is currently known to exist for the products identified above. Thus, any coronavirus-related prevention or treatment claims regarding such products are not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. You must immediately cease making all such claims. Violations of the FTC Act may result in legal action seeking a Federal District Court injunction and an order may require that you pay back money to consumers.

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