Kratom is an herb derived from a plant native to Southeast Asia. It's taken recreationally for its euphoric effects, as a dietary supplement, to treat anxiety and depression, and more. In his statement, he wrote that calls to U.S. poison control centers regarding kratom have increased 10-fold from 2010 to 2015, with hundreds of calls made each year. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the American Kratom Association-yes, it exists-has lobbied to have kratom recognized as "a safe alternative to legal and illegal opioids".
The scientific research about kratom and its potential medical uses are very limited, but evidence of its risks are clear. The FDA said the supplement, marketed as an alternative to painkillers and an opioid withdrawal tool, comes with "deadly risks".
"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.
"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". "Before it can be legally marketed for therapeutic uses in the US, kratom's risks and benefits must be evaluated as part of the regulatory process for drugs that Congress has entrusted the FDA with". Last year, the DEA proposed a ban on kratom but backtracked under pressure from some members of Congress and outcry from kratom advocates who said it could help treat opioid addiction. The FDA says that review is underway.
In this photo illustration, capsules of the herbal supplement Kratom are seen on May 10, 2016 in Miami, Florida.
"Evidence shows that kratom has similar effects to narcotics like opioids, and carries similar risks of abuse, addiction and in some cases, death", FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.
Kratom is already a controlled substance in 16 countries worldwide and is also banned in states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
"At global mail facilities, the FDA has detained hundreds of shipments of kratom".
"They must be put through a proper evaluative process that involves the DEA and the FDA".
Dozens of web sites sell kratom, but the FDA said it would exercise its jurisdiction over the product as an unapproved drug.
"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".