What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Our weekly posts have been entertaining and thought provoking to write. We have covered a number of topics ranging from hopeful to insightful. Today’s post originated with a series of phone calls from industry colleagues discussing the impact of CBD on the industry. Many believe the impact is overall positive, but some ingredient suppliers are noticing some headwinds. Major ingredient manufacturers of curcumin and other joint health ingredients, distributors and brands are all reporting challenges in the joint health category. Initial research indicates it is too early to quantify the concern, but the noise level is such that we will monitor the issue.

What did come out of this week’s research on the CBD topic is a request to help explain a puzzling CBD website: RheumatoidArthritis.org.  The website touts itself as a support network dedicated to sufferers of a painful autoimmune disease, and it is an IRS registered 501c3 charitable organization, however their 2018 Form 990-N indicates no assets or income as both are listed as $0. All of that is somewhat understandable and not all together unusual.

What stands out as a request for explanation is the website itself. The front-page talks about what is Rheumatoid Arthritis, causes, symptoms, treatments, etc. The front page includes a link to a CBD oil link and a request for a brief 4-minute survey.

The survey is four questions that eventually allow you to sign up a study participant providing “discounted products for testing”:

The organization is clearly stating they receive advertising support:

Advertising Disclosure

What is not clear is what process is used for the vetting of the products offered.

The CBD endorsement affirms the science behind the claims:

CBD Oil Eases Arthritis Pain

One of the primary CBD oil benefits for arthritis sufferers is its positive effect on pain, and research confirms it.:A study published in the journal Pain in December 2017 analyzed whether CBD could prevent osteoarthritis pain and joint neuropathy. Based on their findings, researchers affirmed that it did both because it decreased joint inflammation and served as a protectant to the nerves.The study is a rat study on osteoarthritis:Pain. 2017 Dec;158(12):2442-2451. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052.

Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis.

The site also endorses curcumin for Rheumatoid Arthritis albeit much deeper into the content:

Dr. Freeman is referenced as a medical expert endorsing the statements made on this website. We contacted her via Linkedin and she responded with: “Scott, thanks for reaching out. I did not and do not endorse this.”

This type of advertising is nothing new to our industry. This site explicitly references pain and disease and associates them with a dietary supplement and included information from an expert without her knowledge or permission.

TTC is collecting examples of these and will share them time to time for your review and comment. We welcome you to assist us in this collection, when you see something, send something. Our team email is info AT trusttransparency DOT com.  

Our questions to you:

  1. What do you think about this type of advertising?
  2. In your opinion is RASN DSHEA compliant?
  3. Would you like to be more or less aware of this type of issue

TTC will work to help us all observe the grey areas of marketing and focus on the good this industry provides! To paraphrase Justice Brandeis – “Transparency is the best disinfectant”. Let’s keep cleaning!