FDA Warns Of Deaths Linked To Opioid-Like Kratom

15 November, 2017, 02:07 | Author: Eloise Marshall
  • A mitragynine molecule which is the herbal alkaloid present in kratom. Source:OLEKUUL  SCIENCE

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday raised concerns about kratom, saying there is no reliable evidence to support its use to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, citing reports of 36 deaths associated with the use of kratom-containing products.

The kratom plant grows naturally across Southeast Asia in the countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Advocates say kratom can ease pain and make it easier to get through opioid withdrawals. Others use kratom for its euphoric effects, or to wean addicts off opioids such as prescription painkillers or heroin, also without medical say-so. Additionally, the FDA is aware of reports of 26 deaths associated with the use of kratom-containing products, and that there have been reports of kratom being laced with other opioids like hydrocodone.

So far, no marketer has tried "to properly develop a drug that includes kratom", Gottlieb said.

People are taking the unapproved supplement to treat conditions like pain, anxiety and depression - without medical supervision, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

Past year the Drug Enforcement Administration planned to make kratom a Schedule I drug, a category that includes marijuana and LSD, but decided against it after an outcry of opposition. "We've used our authority to conduct seizures and to oversee the voluntary destruction of kratom products".

Kratom has similar effects to narcotics like opioids and carries similar risks of abuse, addiction and in worst cases, death, the FDA noted.

The FDA says it will seize shipments of kratom and issued a public health warning telling people not to use it.

Still, Jessica Bardoulas of the American Osteopathic Association said many "were dismayed to learn of the DEA's plan to classify the plan as a Schedule 1 substance. despite anecdotal and scientific evidence indicating kratom could be an effective opioid alternative".

The FDA's chief, Scott Gottleib, asked Congress for more power and expanded resources to combat the opioid epidemic on Tuesday. And in the United States, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin have banned kratom.

Gottlieb said he was sympathetic but said distributors have to show that kratom does work as advertised. "In the meantime, based on the weight of the evidence, the FDA will continue to take action on these products in order to protect public health", Gottlieb said in the statement.

"While we remain open to the potential medicinal uses of kratom, those uses must be backed by sound science and weighed appropriately against the potential for abuse", Gottlieb added.

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