18 Oct The MHRA On CBD/Hemp Products And Its Relationship With Trade Associations
This is an email from the MHRA to a CBD/Hemp supplier which name is redacted. It clearly sets out the MHRA’s position regarding the Cannabis Trades Association, its ‘Cannabis Products Directive’ proposal and how anyone is able to obtain advice from the MHRA without having to join any trade association. It also explains how medical claims may only be made about a CBD product if it has the required licence known as a marketing authorisation.
This is authoritative guidance from the medicines regulator which is an agency of the Department of Health and Social Care. If you have received alternative guidance or suggestions that you must join a trade association to sell CBD products, this is incorrect.
From: [email protected]
Date: October 2018
Subject: CTA and CBD
Thank you for your email of 22nd September 2018 to the Agency. Please note that we can only comment with regards to our position and advise you to contact appropriate Government Departments with regards to obtaining their views.
The CTA represent a number of companies in the UK who market CBD and they have proposed a framework, which they have termed the ‘Cannabis Products Directive’, that effectively sets out quality requirements for their members.
The Medicines Borderline Section of the MHRA has been clear from the outset that we will work with companies and trade bodies to ensure compliance in respect of CBD products. This is in line with our approach across the borderline and we do not require a company has membership of a trade body to enter into dialogue with us. There are a number of trade bodies, covering a range of product types who are well versed in borderline matters and they are able to advise companies but, if a company does not want to become a member, we can provide them with advice regarding their products. On occasions we may work with trade bodies; as they are able to communicate information on our behalf to their members and we may assist them if they want to come up with guidance on a specific aspect etc. However, ultimately MHRA is responsible the licensing of medicines and for the classification of borderline medicinal products and this cannot be passed to third parties.
We list a large number of trade bodies etc who have an interest in borderline matters in a ‘Useful addresses’ Appendix in our Guidance Note 8 (GN8).
Our current position with regards to CBD is as follows:
MHRA has offered an opinion on the regulatory status of CBD and advised that we are currently evaluating the evidence of pharmacological effect. At present we are providing the following general guidance to enquirers until we determine the status of CBD.
MHRA is of the opinion that products containing CBD, when used for a medical purpose, should be regulated as medicinal products. The MHRA’s opinion has been issued at this stage with the intention of seeking voluntary compliance by companies supplying CBD for medical purposes. This does not preclude MHRA from seeking to use Part 9 of the Human Medicines Regulations to classify any particular product.
A “medicinal product” is defined in Article 1 of Council Directive 2001/83/EEC and included as Regulation 2 of the Human Medicines Regulations. The definition is as follows:
(1) Any substance or combination of substances presented as having properties for treating or preventing disease in human beings; or
(2) Any substance or combination of substances which may be used by or administered to human beings either with a view to restoring, correcting or modifying physiological functions by exerting a pharmacological, immunological or metabolic action, or to making a medical diagnosis”
In respect of the first limb of the definition, were you to market any product that makes a medicinal claim, this would mean that the product falls within the definition of a medical product. For the avoidance of doubt, you should also be aware that this includes any testimonies, studies, links to articles, historical uses etc that you may wish to include on your website or any other promotional material. Further guidance in relation to medicinal claims can be found in our Guidance Note 8
Insofar as the second limb of the definition of a medical product applies to your products, it is a matter of fact that there have been a number of clinical trials which demonstrate that CBD has a therapeutic effect, particularly in the treatment of severe epilepsy. MHRA’s clinical assessors have reviewed relevant scientific and clinical evidence to support the mode of action of CBD in the treatment of a range of medical conditions. It should also be noted that the European Medicines Agency has given CBD products an orphan designation on four occasions, for three different clinical conditions; graft versus host disease, perinatal asphyxia and Dravet syndrome.
The MHRA is now working with trade bodies in relation to making sure products containing CBD, used for a medical purpose, which can be classified as medicines, satisfy the legal requirements of the Human Medicines Directive as transposed into UK law by the Human Medicines Regulations 2012. This work is ongoing. Given the ongoing evaluation, MHRA can give no assurance that any particular product, including products under development, will not subsequently be classified as a medicinal product.
‘The advice contained within this email relates to the MHRA’s opinion regarding the status of CBD. The Home Office can advise on psychoactive substances and the Misuse of Drugs Act and any products which are subject to these regulations. Your products must comply with the relevant regulations at all times. It is possible that your products may contain residual levels of THC, and/or other controlled substances. We therefore advise that you contact the Home Office first who can advise in respect of psychoactive substances and the Misuse of Drugs Act. The Home Office can also advise with regards to what licences will be required to grow/import/export such products/substances from/into the UK. Please note that we are only providing general information above and this is in no-way, shape or form an approval of any product. We have not seen any information relating to the products in question and therefore, we cannot comment on its acceptability. If you wish to license your products as medicines in the UK then the attached links provide more information about how to obtain a marketing authorisation (MA) in the UK which we hope you will find helpful. Home Office has also published a Factsheet in respect of CBD and you are advised to review this first: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/674713/Factsheet-_Cannabis__CBD_and_Cannabinoids-_January_2018.pdf
The Agency reserves the right to change its view in the event of any information or evidence which has a bearing on the status of the products, including the way in which they are presented and promoted. This also includes any information, which we have not assessed. You should seek independent advice or consult a suitable trade association or the appropriate regulatory authority about the acceptability of any product you are considering selling, supplying or advertising.
The licensing process is by no means easy, especially with little regulatory knowledge. We have included links below which will direct you to the relevant pages on the MHRA website. As an indication of the Legal Basis, you should focus on an 8(3) Full Application, submitted under the complex fee. A National procedure is for authorisation in the UK only.
In order to market the product in the UK, a Marketing Authorisation is required. As there are no step by step guidelines, please see the below links for the submission of new marketing authorisation applications (MAA).
(Guidance regarding how to apply for a market authorisation in the UK)
(EU scientific guidelines for medicinal products)
(Licence application forms)
(MHRA fees definitions)
Furthermore, to obtain marketing authorisations in the UK you must have a registered office or representative either in the UK or another EU member state. GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) inspections will take place after marketing authorisation applications have been submitted if the site has not been inspected by an EU authority in the last 3 years and does not hold a valid GMP certificate.
Please see the below link with regards to the requirements for having Manufacturers and Wholesale Dealers licences: Importers Licence queries.