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No evidence of liver toxicity in adults using CBD



Researchers have reported no preliminary evidence of liver disease in the 839 adults taking CBD

A first-of-its-kind study has found no evidence of liver toxicity in more than 800 adults consuming CBD.

Following seven months of clinical investigation, researchers have reported no preliminary evidence of liver disease in the 839 adults taking CBD as part of the trial. 

Validcare, which conducts patient-centered clinical trials, announced this week that its team of investigators met with members of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Cannabis Product Council (formerly known as the Cannabis Work Group) to share initial findings from the industry sponsored, human safety study.

Preliminary findings show no evidence of liver disease in the 839 participants and no increase in the prevalence of elevated liver function tests when compared to a population with a similar incidence of medical conditions.

The study was commissioned in response to the FDA’s requests for science-based data, so it can confidently determine the appropriate regulatory path for hemp derived CBD products. 

“Our primary endpoint in this study is to observe potential liver effects in adults ingesting oral forms of hemp derived CBD for a minimum of 60 days, explained co- investigator Jeff Lombardo PharmD, BCOP.

“What we observed to date is no clinical evidence of liver disease in any participants. We observed slight, clinically insignificant elevations of liver function tests in less than ten percent of consumers irrespective of age, product composition and form and the amount consumed. 

“Three of the 839 participants had 3x normal levels of the liver enzyme ALT. These three consumers are taking prescription medications that are known to elevate liver enzymes, and we are investigating whether prescribed medications or other factors contribute to these outliers.”

The study’s investigators were surprised to find that almost 70 percent of study participants reported having a medical condition and taking medications, without an increase in adverse events. 

Studies of similar populations demonstrate an 11 percent elevation in liver function tests, while this research demonstrated ~9 percent elevation1. 

“This unexpected, positive finding makes the data even more compelling and provides significant data to consider secondary safety measurements in the general population,” added Keith Aqua, MD, co-principal investigator of this IRB-approved study. 

“We are encouraged by these findings and hopeful this study provides FDA with sufficient science-based data to determine and take action on a safe regulatory path forward. We will continue to analyze these real world data and are adding a second cohort to this study to increase statistical certainty for liver safety and secondary measures across diverse populations and consumers with various medical conditions.”

Principal investigators met with FDA on March 15 and reviewed preliminary liver safety study results in the form of an abstract. The parties also discussed establishing a direct communication feed to FDA so it can receive raw, blinded, aggregate data for its analysis.

Twelve major CBD companies led the industry in this initial study; Asterra Labs, Care by Design, CBDistillery, CBD American Shaman, Charlotte’s Web, Columbia Care, Global Widget, HempFusion, Infinite CBD, Kannaway, Medterra CBD and SunMed CBD

Each brand provided funding, product, certificates of authenticity, and assisted with recruitment of adult US based consumers.

Over 830 consumers completed the study between August 2020 and February 2021. 

Use of Validcare’s decentralised clinical research platform and partnership with national laboratories enabled participants and principal investigators to successfully complete this first cohort, despite the pandemic, and compile and deliver results to brands and FDA within six weeks.

Patrick McCarthy, CEO of Validcare, commented: “Congressional leadership asked Validcare almost 18 months ago to engage industry help collect safety data for FDA. 

“We understand the significance, importance and immediate need for CBD safety research for the FDA, industry and the US consumer. 

“This first of its kind, industry led, multi-branded study required trust, collaboration, operational excellence, innovation, and resilience. It demonstrates the incredible potential for decentralized clinical research to increase participant access and accelerate results – even during the most challenging times” 

McCarthy added: “We are excited for our principal investigators to continue, expand and report out on this foundational work in the next few months. Once completed, safety results of this study will be shared with participating brands and FDA. The investigators also plan to publish in a peer reviewed journal.”

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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