February 1, 2018
The Washington Post (11/14) reports the Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory warning "consumers to stay away from the herbal supplement kratom, saying regulators are aware of 36 deaths linked to products containing the substance." The article points out that use of the supplement has increased in recent years as a treatment for anxiety, depression, pain, and opioid withdrawal. FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb said that kratom is not approved by the FDA for any use, and that there is no "reliable evidence" to support the claim that kratom is a safe treatment for opioid abuse or addiction. Gottlieb also said that the substance can have similar effects as opioids, "and carries similar risks of abuse, addiction, and, in some cases, death."
On its website, NPR (11/14) reports the agency also said that calls to poison control centers in the US concerning kratom increased tenfold from 2010 to 2015.
Reuters (11/14) reports that the FDA already has import alerts on kratom, and that federeal agents have seized "thousands of pounds of raw kratom and dietary supplements" in recent years. The article also points out that kratom is a controlled substance in 16 countries, and it is also banned in several states: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
The AP (11/14) notes that last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration proposed classifying kratom as a controlled substance, but following a public backlash, the agency postponed that decision and said it would wait for a recommendation from the FDA.