In November of 2016 voters in California passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act which legalized the sale and use of marijuana throughout the state, similarly to states such as Colorado and Washington. Starting January 1, 2018, it will be legal to go to a licensed dispensary and purchase marijuana for personal use, without needing a medical marijuana card. However, marijuana possession or use is still a federal offense; navigating the new law can be hazy.
The cosmetics industry, unknown to many, is essentially not regulated by a federal regulatory agency. Cosmetics technically fall under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), but there are few requirements that manufacturers must comply with. The FDA only requires that manufacturers comply with several labeling regulations so companies can avoid listing a product’s total ingredients, and the FDA does not require manufacturers to report health complaints. The FDA instead relies on direct reports of adverse events from consumers, which has the potential to delay remedying a potentially dangerous situation. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that between 2015 and 2016, the number of complaints of adverse health results related to cosmetic products more than doubled from the previous years. Additionally, the FDA only has the equivalent of six full-time inspectors to monitor three million shipments of cosmetics that come into the United States each year. Last year, inspectors only conducted tests on about 364 of those shipments, and 20 % of those shipment that were inspected led to adverse findings.
Regardless of opinions on legalization, many people accept the idea that medical marijuana, and more specifically CBD, can be a powerful treatment for many medical conditions. However, there has been one major roadblock: the FDA. According to the FDA, more than 90 warning letters over the past 10 years have been released to companies claiming that their cannabis products cure various symptoms. The most common is the claim that marijuana prevents or treats cancer. In 2017, as the medical properties of marijuana continue to be trumpeted to the general public, the FDA is still working to protect the public by issuing warning letters to marijuana providers making unsubstantiated claims.
Starting on January 1, 2013, Section 203 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 became a tool for songwriters and musicians to recapture control of their work that was registered with the United States Copyright Office on or after January 1, 1978. Who are they recapturing control from? Record companies. Songwriters own the copyrights in their work, but in making a deal with a record company to publish and promote the work, writers transfer those rights or license the work (only granting certain rights) to the company. Section 203 came into effect in 1977 and specifically concerns music created after 1978. (Music created prior to 1978 is governed by Section 304 of the Copyright Act.) Due to the limitations of Section 203, January 1, 2013, was the first opportunity for artists to terminate ownership of their songs and/or recordings from the record companies that previously owned them. Putting that into perspective, in 2017, artists that created the major hits of the 80’s (think AC/DC, Michael Jackson, and Journey) can file a notice of termination with record labels that were previously granted ownership rights at the time the music was created in an attempt to regain all control of their work. Issues with termination rights have caused quite the battle between record companies and musicians both publicly and privately. Those battles can become more complicated in cases with multiple writers, vague copyright agreements, and the death of musicians. As artists seek to exercise their termination rights, it will be interesting to see if and how the music industry will change.
Nearly 40% of publishers using native advertising are not compliant with the Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) guidelines; this figure has improved from one year ago, when only 30% of users were following the guidelines. In 2017 alone, the FTC estimates that the revenue generated from native advertising will total $20.9 billion, with an estimated 610 new advertisers each month this number is projected to increase to $59 billion in 2018. The number of corporations using native advertising has increased over the years because of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, where much of the in-feed content is paid or sponsored.
Most Americans consume caffeine regularly. High amounts of caffeine are found in a wide range of drinks including sodas, coffee, and energy drinks. Like most things, caffeine is safe for most people as long as it is consumed in moderation. The dosage size of powdered caffeine has come under scrutiny mostly due to its potency. The Food and Drug Administration has notified powdered caffeine distributors that their products are potentially dangerous to consumers as they have the possibility of causing serious adverse health consequences, including death. The FDA’s notices required powdered caffeine distributors to accurately label and market their products ensuring they are in compliance with the law. Four of the five distributors removed their products from the market following the notices, and the fifth distributor no longer markets to consumers.
On May 30, 2017, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Impression Prods., Inc. v. Lexmark Int’l, Inc. finding 8-0 to disallow post-sale restrictions on goods, and 7-1 on the matter of international exhaustion. The Court’s holding reinforced the doctrine of international exhaustion for patents, finding that the first authorized sale exhausts the patent holder’s rights to block importation. In theory, one could now legally purchase pharmaceuticals overseas at cheaper prices and import them to the United States.
On May 20, 2016 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new nutrition facts label for packaged foods, the first significant makeover in twenty years. The new label reflects new scientific information regarding our diets; such as the link between diet and chronic diseases like obesity and heart disease. This new label comes after three years of negotiations and proposed improvements between the FDA, scientists, and lobbying groups. Those in favor of the changes have pointed out that the old nutrition fact labels had no information to help consumers determine if they were complying with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommendations and that the labels did not reflect the necessary nutrients per day. These changes affect manufacturers as well as consumers. Manufacturers are not only worried about having to reformulate their foods, but also having to reconsider their ability to make certain nutrient content claims in advertisements and on packaging. Companies will also have to consider additional costs associated with packaging design, development of new artwork, regulatory consultation and review to ensure label compliance, reconsideration of inconsistent advertising, and human costs associated with potential new operating procedures and training to ensure compliance with the new regulations. In response to complaints from manufacturers, consumer advocates are reminding the White House Administration to remember that the FDA’s mission is protect the health of the American people not the bottom line of manufacturers.
It is no secret that streaming services have been a highly controversial issue in the entertainment industry in recent years. Artists from all over the world have been affected by the rise of music streaming; many believe it is no different than piracy. Nevertheless, Spotify is in fifty-eight countries, and the user base consists of over fifty million subscribers globally, with twelve and a half million paying subscribers. As Spotify has grown, questions have risen surrounding the rights that artists, producers, and writers have to their music that the public has access to through ‘streaming’. As technology advances, the music industry will continue to change. The recently filed lawsuits against Spotify show that this is an underdeveloped area of the law that needs to be explored. The decisions regarding Spotify’s streaming service and compliance with copyright laws will have major implications for not just Spotify, but the entire music industry.
Dominique Vittori is a Regulatory Affairs Associate for Abbott Laboratories working within Abbott Diagnostics Division. Abbott Laboratories is a worldwide healthcare company that is most known for pharmaceutical development but eventually branched out to include medical devices, nutritional products and research-based drugs/pharmaceuticals. Ms. Vittori earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, where she majored Molecular and Cellular Biology. Ms. Vittori sought a career in compliance because of the opportunity to put her background and expertise in the sciences to use in a corporate setting, and has been most rewarded by the ability to see the tangible results of her work at Abbott Labs.
The following is an interview with Ms. Vittori where she gives an inside look into her daily life as a compliance professional.