FDA officials have recommended kratom be categorized as a Schedule 1 drug, which would effectively mean that scientists would not be able to study its effects …“The problem with saying it’s ‘an opioid’ without qualification is that it just paints everything with this broad brush, and obviously carries a negative connotation given what’s going on in the country right now,” -Andrew Kruegel says (Columbia University pharmacologist who has extensively studied kratom)

Advocates of kratom have long said that the plant-derived substance can be safer than opioid drugs sold at a pharmacy or on the street, fighting pain and treating symptoms of opioid withdrawal without the same, potentially deadly effects on respiration … Scientists have known since the ’90s that kratom contains alkaloid compounds that exhibit mild opioid activity. That made the FDA’s warning puzzling–and frustrating–for some researchers. “I don’t really see what this adds to this field or adds to the body of knowledge around kratom,” Andrew Kruegel, a Columbia University pharmacologist who has extensively studied kratom and signed the letter, told Tonic. … He also questioned the technique used by the agency, a process known as molecular modeling or molecular docking that attempts to match a computer model of a compound with its receptors in the body. In its warning, the FDA calls it “a novel scientific analysis using a computational model developed by agency scientists, which provided even stronger evidence of kratom compounds’ opioid properties.” But the process tends to be used in the early stages of drug development. “You would not be very confident in the results of that assay,” Kruegel said. “It’s all done virtually in a computer.” In his analysis, the FDA’s Gottlieb–in addition to comparing kratom to other opioids–also pointed to reports of 44 deaths “associated with the use of kratom.” Skeptics say the deaths can’t be conclusively attributed to kratom and point out that many of the people who died also had other drugs in their systems, from alcohol to morphine.

Original Article (Fast Company):
Scientists warn Trump: FDA’s war on a plant could worsen opioid crisis
Artwork Fair Use: Billy Hathorn