Rite-Aid joins the sweeping trend of pharmacy CBD providers, but challenges remain

Rite-Aid joins the sweeping trend of pharmacy CBD providers, but challenges remain

Headlines swept across the U.S. in recent weeks when both CVS and Walgreens pharmacy chains decided to jump into the CBD, or cannabidiol, trade.

CBD is a hemp-extract many use for a veritable catalogue of inconveniences, from anxiety and insomnia to inflammation and cancer treatment pain. Now, the pharmacy Rite-Aid is interested in the CBD market with a pilot program for the products of its own.

Rite-Aid locations in Oregon and Washington states will be part of the pilot program, according to reporting from USA Today. [1]

Officials at Rite-Aid announced the new pilot program during a company strategy call with media and shareholders on Thursday, where they talked about prospects in the hemp industry. Products they are looking to carry would include creams, lotions and other CBD beauty products. [1]

Rite-Aid’s Chief Operating Officer Bryan Everett said during the call that the move would “better meet the needs and preferences of our customers in those communities,” according to USA Today. [1]

According to Yahoo! Finance, the move to offer CBD in more than 200 pilot locations comes from a deep need to boost sales, with reporters there even characterizing the move as a “fight to survive.” [2]

Unfortunately for Rite-Aid, the CBD strategy won’t necessarily help them with performance against competitors CVS and Walgreens, both of which promised CBD in hundreds more store locations in as many as nine states.

The Rite-Aid pharmacies have more on their plate than an uphill battle with their competitors. Recently-retired Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb also warned Rite-Aid they may be on thin ice. [3]

Reporting from the Washington Examiner shows that Gottlieb said that since the pharmacies are selling the CBD as cosmetics, the products may be in danger if any of the branding information makes “drug claims” about how the products perform. [3]

While Gottlieb and other regulators at the state and federal levels have cast doubt into the benefits of CBD, their overreaches and the market uncertainty that has followed have made it harder for companies and customers to police themselves.

Thankfully crackdowns from earlier in the year have been widely remedied, for instance with nearly a dozen states legalizing CBD by themselves since law enforcers in places like Maine and New York City demanded that food and drink products with hemp be removed from shelves.

Still, much work needs to be done. Some, including Gottlieb, dispute whether the FDA or Congress should be the ones solving the confusion over hemp, but the FDA is currently accepting public comments on the matter until July 2. [4]


[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/04/11/rite-aid-cbd-retailer-pilot-sales-oregon-and-washington/3440670002/

[2] https://finance.yahoo.com/video/rite-aid-start-stocking-cbd-202601502.html

[3] https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/scott-gottlieb-warns-that-rite-aid-risks-regulatory-trouble-selling-cbd-cosmetics

[4] https://www.nothingbuthemp.net/blog/how-average-customers-can-have-an-impact-on-federal-cbd-regulation