Will Congress act to make a safe, non-addictive pain option available to Americans?
While the country is still focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the scourge of opioid abuse is killing Americans in record numbers. New numbers from the CDC show that overdose deaths increased almost 30 percent from 2019 to 2020 to reach a record 93,000 deaths. We’ve been advocating for expanding access to affordable, non-addictive, safe CBD supplements which are a natural alternative to dangerous opioids, but the FDA has been dragging its feet. Just this week the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to an appropriations bill reprimanding the FDA for still not creating a legal pathway for CBD in food and supplements. There are bills in Congress that solve the problem; we need to get them across the finish line.
There are two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate. The bills are slightly different, but both allow CBD to be used in supplements and provide an exemption for hemp-derived CBD from rules that apply to dietary supplements when there is an approved drug with that ingredient or if that ingredient is being investigated as a new drug.
Hemp-derived CBD could be part of the answer in curbing these tragic and unnecessary overdose deaths. CBD is a safe, non-additive alternative to these drugs with evidence to support its effectiveness for pain. CBD has also shown promise as a treatment for antibiotic-resistant infections like MRSA, which alone kills 90,000 Americans a year.
In earlier coverage we reported on the current status of CBD. In brief, the Farm Bill of 2018 legalized hemp at the federal level, but products containing CBD, such as supplements, are still subject to FDA rules and regulations. The FDA is still determining how it will treat products containing CBD, but the existence of a CBD drug, Epidolex, which costs $32,500 a year, makes it likely that the FDA will not allow CBD supplements to cut into the drug manufacturers’ profits. This is why we need Congress to act; the FDA will likely try to protect the approved drug and eliminate access to CBD supplements.