Kratom Being Used for Opioid Addiction, but FDA Has Warning
Kratom Being Used for Opioid Addiction, but FDA Has Warning
Ilana Panich Linsman for STAT
15 November, 2017, 02:08
Kratom is already a controlled substance in 16 countries, including two of its native countries of origin, Thailand and Malaysia, as well as Australia, Sweden, and Germany. The plant is used in a supplement and is marketed for a variety of uses, including everything from treating pain and anxiety to helping people recover from opioid withdrawal. But the DEA almost made kratom a Schedule 1 drug, the same as heroin and marijuana, last year, and the FDA is now trying to stop shipments of kratom from entering the United States while it works on increasing regulatory oversight.
"Patients addicted to opioids are using kratom without dependable instructions for use and more importantly, without consultation with a licensed health care provider about the product's dangers, potential side effects or interactions with other drugs", he wrote. And 36 deaths have been linked to kratom-containing products.
But the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that kratom carries similar risks, including addiction and death, and the agency is working to block shipments. "The use of kratom is also associated with serious side effects like seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms".
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".
For now, kratom is widely available online and in some stores.
The FDA said it is aware of 36 deaths involving products made with kratom and hundreds of calls to poison control centers.
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The herb gives its users a euphoric feeling when used recreationally, but it's also proven to be just as addictive and, in some cases, deadly as opioids.
"If they find people here who are opening the gates to these drugs, there may be opportunities for the FDA to investigate at a high level", former principal deputy FDA commissioner under the Obama administration, Joshua Sharfstein, told the news site.
"I want to be clear on one fact: there are now no FDA-approved therapeutic uses of kratom", Gottlieb wrote.
The federal government has not classified kratom as illegal, but some states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin, have banned it, according to the Associated Press. "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.
Gottlieb said he was sympathetic but said distributors have to show that kratom does work as advertised.
"At worldwide mail facilities, the FDA has detained hundreds of shipments of kratom".
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