Kratom and the FDA
So as an industrial medicinal chemist, I have some problems with the way the FDA is making its case here.
It’s true that computational models of drug function have become more common, but “reliable” is a tricky word. If these things were truly reliable, to the point that you’d be comfortable setting government policy according to their results, then we folks in the drug industry wouldn’t have to physically screen so many new compounds in actual assays. But we do. Computational models can be useful, but that utility has to be checked against experiment every time to make sure that you’re on the right track, since the number of wrong tracks is basically infinite … If you had “natural products pharmacology” as the next subject likely to make the news headlines, then, it’s time to collect your winnings. For people just coming to the subject, though, it’s important to get some background. Plants most certainly do have a lot of pharmacologically active substances in them, and these can have a huge range of effects (effects that are, as always, related to the dose of the substances themselves). There is no reason whatsoever to believe that a substance is more or less harmful because it comes from a plant or other natural source; such compounds range from vital nutrients to horrendous poisons. The only way to be sure is to study everything in detail.