Scientists at the Food and Drug Administration say compounds in the popular herbal drug kratom act like prescription-strength opioids. Kratom has been tied to 44 deaths, up from 36 reported in November. Kratom is “not just a plant — it’s an opioid,” says FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD.
Last October, the Reader did a story about young men claiming to sell a product called Kratomystic Premium Ethnobotanicals from a mail-drop on Mission Gorge Road. The company claimed to be the “leading provider” of drugs with kratom, but it is doubtful the firm was successful. Earlier, it had claimed to be a leading supplier and researcher of nootropics (smart pills), but the company never got off the ground.
Kratom has a passionate following. In 2016, the FDA announced federal marshals had seized 90,000 bottles of kratom. The agency says it was a threat to public health. Fully 142,000 kratom lovers signed a petition denouncing the federal drug agency; they rallied in front of the White House. The American Kratom Association said the drug could be used to manage pain and promote a sense of well-being.
So the FDA put kratom on hold until it did more studies. This week, it lowered the boom on the drug.