FDA To Stop Sales of Kratom for Addiction

Kratom leaves, pills, and powder sitting on top of a wood table

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public against the use of kratom, citing potential dangers. Recently, the FDA issued warnings to two major distributors of kratom for mislabeling the substance and misrepresenting the kratom as having health benefits. This new development indicates that the FDA may be taking a stronger stand against kratom use and comes at a time when some are calling for kratom to be made illegal.

Kratom is a plant that grows naturally in Southeast Asia and affects the same opioid receptors in the brain that morphine does. The substance recently became popular as an alternative to opioids. Some people claim that kratom can help those with opioid addiction stop using opioids, even though there is no supporting evidence.

The FDA has advised people against using kratom, citing their ongoing evaluation of the substance. Kratom appears to have properties that may cause addiction, abuse and dependence. Additionally, kratom is sometimes contaminated with infectious bacteria, such as salmonella, which can cause those who use it to become ill. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kratom was responsible for almost a hundred overdose deaths within six months.

On June 25, 2019, the FDA issued warnings to two major distributors of kratom: Cali Botanicals of Folsom, California, and Kratom NC of Wilmington, North Carolina, for illegally marketing kratom using unproven claims. These companies claimed that kratom could treat pain, cancer, depression, diabetes and anxiety. There is no evidence to support these claims and people who use kratom believing these claims could be at an increased risk of developing health problems while also not receiving proven treatments for the conditions that they are using the kratom for.

While there are several known health risks associated with kratom, it has not yet been banned in the United States. Many believe that the FDA may ban kratom soon. Several states made kratom an illegal substance.

As kratom is a newer substance and has not been widely used in the United States until recently, its future is uncertain. It is possible that researchers may discover medical uses that make kratom an important substance for treating medical conditions, although studies so far have not shown any important medical uses. If studies continue to show no medical purpose for kratom and the number of overdose deaths continues to increase, then it is likely that kratom may eventually be banned in the United States.

 

Sources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “FDA Issues Warnings to Companies Selling Illegal, Unapproved Kratom Drug Products Marketed for Opioid Cessation, Pain Treatment and other Medical Uses.” June 25, 2019. Accessed July 5, 2019.

Oppel, Richard; Kovaleski, Serge. “Opioid Users Call Kratom a Godsend. The F.D.A. Says It’s a Menace.” The New York Times, April 17, 2019. Accessed July 5, 2019.

Fluyau, Dimy; Revadigar, Neelambika. “Biochemical Benefits, Diagnosis, and Clinical Risks Evaluation of Kratom.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, April 24, 2017. Accessed July 5, 2019.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “FDA and Kratom.” April 3, 2019. Accessed July 5, 2019.

Olsen, Emily; et al. “Notes from the Field: Unintentional Drug Overdose Deaths with Kratom Detected — 27 States, July 2016–December 2017.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, April 12, 2019. Accessed July 5, 2019.

Brodwin, Erin. “A Ruling is Imminent on the Legality of a Controversial Drug That’s Used to Treat Addiction — But Some Have Called it a ‘Dangerous Opioid’.” Business Insider, November 17, 2018. Accessed July 5, 2019.