Johnson & Johnson asks FDA to ‘chip away’ at cannabinoid regulations

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson has joined the chorus of businesses asking U.S. health regulators to develop basic safety rules for cannabinoids in foods and dietary supplements.

Speaking Tuesday to an advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, an executive at the company’s pharmaceutical arm suggested the FDA could “start to chip away” at the unanswered questions about cannabinoids such as CBD.

Cynthia Afshari, vice president and global head of preclinical sciences and translational safety at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. of J&J, said the FDA could consider interim steps as it gathers more data about the safety of over-the-counter cannabinoids.

“There are some really high-quality tools that the agency has at their disposal that could start to chip away at least at putting that high quality kind of mechanistic information out there that then could be picked up by others,” Afshari said in comments reported by Cannabis Wire.

The FDA’s Science Board considered cannabinoids Tuesday in a hearing designed to evaluate hurdles for cannabinoids being sold without prescriptions.

Regulators conceded that CBD and other cannabis extracts are widely available despite repeated FDA warnings that they might not be safe.

Steven Musser, deputy center director for scientific operations at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said consumers expect health officials to monitor but not prohibit cannabinoid products.

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“They would like to have these products and they would not like to be prohibited from having them, although they do want a degree of oversight and safeguard, so they would like someone overseeing quality, safety and purity,” Musser said, according to Cannabis Wire.

FDA officials concluded the hearing by suggesting more review, though they gave no timeline for it.