Science

Kratom: why did the FDA declare the herbal supplement an opiate?

After Gottlieb’s statement [about Kratom], nine scientists who study substance addiction sent a letter to DEA Acting Administrator Robert W. Patterson, saying that the FDA was wrong in connecting kratom and opioids and that there remains no proof that the dietary supplement caused deaths. Rolling Stone reached out to Gottlieb for an interview, but a FDA spokesperson says his statements serve as his comment.​

Last month (Feb. 2018) the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that kratom has “opioid properties” and said it had been associated with 44 deaths between April 2011 and December 2017 … “The 44 deaths are not attributable to kratom,” says Dave Herman, Chairman of the nonprofit American Kratom Association, adding that an estimated 3 to 5 million people in the U.S. have used the supplement. “The FDA is saying people died and they found kratom in their system. It’s like if I drank a Coke and got hit by a truck. There’s not even one death from kratom.” … According to Jared Polis, supporters and users of kratom in his district – which includes all of Boulder and northwest parts of Denver – tell him that kratom helps fight opioid addiction, among a host of other health issues. “Classifying kratom as a Schedule I drug would be absurd, just as it is absurd that marijuana is classified” under the same category. Jack E. Henningfield is a former National Institute on Drug Abuse addiction expert [and writes]… “Dr. Gottlieb is not being well advised…” & “FDA has provided neither evidence from the real world nor laboratory studies that kratom or its mitragynine alkaloids are similar to ‘narcotic-like opioids’ with respect to addiction or death.” He compares the PHASE method to those used by pharmaceutical companies and says they can estimate receptor binding characteristics, but the data tells little about the actual effects of the substances. For example, over-the-counter Imodium for diarrhea and dextromethorphan in cough suppressants bind to the body’s opiate receptors – just as deadly drugs like heroin and fentanyl do – but the substances vary widely in their effects to addiction and risk of death.

Original Article (Rolling Stone):
Kratom: Why Did the FDA Declare the Herbal Supplement an Opiate?
Artwork Fair Use: Elembis

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