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15 November 2017, 02:11 | Randall Craig
A mitragynine molecule which is the herbal alkaloid present in kratom. Source:OLEKUUL SCIENCE
Jessica Bardoulas of the American Osteopathic Association tells USA Today there's "anecdotal and scientific evidence indicating kratom could be an effective opioid alternative".
"The FDA is aware of reports of 36 deaths associated with the use of kratom-containing products", the agency's commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said in a statement.
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.
Tablets of the opioid-based Hydrocodone at a pharmacy in Portsmouth, Ohio, June 21, 2017.
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.
Meanwhile, a similarly troubling trend has been seen with kratom. "Alternatively, if proponents are right and kratom can be used to help treat opioid addiction, patients deserve to have clear, reliable evidence of these benefits". The plant's euphoric affect, which is similar to narcotics such as opioids, has led to recreational use as an alternative to opioids. "From the outset, the FDA must use its authority to protect the public from addictive substances like kratom, both as part of our commitment to stemming the opioid epidemic and preventing another from taking hold". Finally, the use of kratom is associated with serious side effects like seizures, liver damage and withdrawal symptoms, he wrote.
"There are now no FDA-approved therapeutic uses of kratom", said Gottlieb.
The drug is kratom, and despite failing to gain FDA approval, it continued to be available for sale online and in stores - including inside a vending machine in Arizona.
Kratom is banned in Australia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand and in several U.S. states - Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. However, drugs made from these leaves carry "deadly risks", FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
Gottlieb said he was sympathetic but said distributors have to show that kratom does work as advertised.
"I understand that there's a lot of interest in the possibility for kratom to be used as a potential therapy for a range of disorders", Gottlieb added.
More than 340 million shipments of kratom reach the US each year, even though the FDA has seized hundreds more.
"We've learned a tragic lesson from the opioid crisis: that we must pay early attention to the potential for new products to cause addiction, and we must take strong, decisive measures to intervene", Gottlieb said.
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