FDA is using ‘bad science’ by claiming kratom is an opioid
Last month, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) continued its attacks on kratom, a natural plant used by millions of Americans for an improved quality of life and pain reduction. FDA is using ‘bad science’ by claiming kratom is an opioid. According to the FDA, kratom should be banned for its opioid-like qualities, its potential deadliness. They also claimed it’s linked to 23 salmonella poisonings across the country.
Let’s break down all of these falsehoods.
- First, regulation is the better approach than banning. Kratom users won’t go away if it’s made illegal; the plant has been imported for years because of its popularity and safe use in Asia. Making it illegal may simply send people to the black market, as happened with alcohol after Prohibition a century ago. Responsible kratom policy includes regulation, not banning.
- Second, as noted by nine scientists who signed a letter to Opioid Crisis Team Leader Kellyanne Conway and Acting Drug Enforcement Agency Administrator Robert Patterson, the FDA is using “bad science” by claiming kratom is an opioid. In fact, according to these diverse and respected scientists, “We believe strongly that the current body of credible research on the actual effects of kratom demonstrates that it is not dangerously addictive, nor is it similar to ‘narcotics like opioids’ with respect to ‘addiction’ and ‘death,’” they wrote. “Equally important, four surveys indicate that kratom is presently serving as a lifeline away from strong, often dangerous opioids for many of the several million Americans who use kratom.” The FDA’s patent dishonesty is like all lies — it has a grain of truth. Kratom does offer some of the pain-reducing benefits of opioids. But unlike devastatingly addictive opioids, kratom is no more addictive than caffeine — something that is widely available and used every day by tens of millions of healthy Americans. To quote the scientist’s’ letter, “…kratom has a long history of acceptably safe consumer use, and, when used as an alternative pain management therapy, kratom provides a far more favorable safety profile for consumers compared to more dangerously addictive and potentially deadly classical opioid medications.”
- Third, the supposed link between kratom and 44 deaths is totally false. As detailed in a groundbreaking new study by molecular biologist and attorney Dr. Jane Babin, 43 of those deaths have so many other factors — such as hard drugs like heroin, suicidal ideations, and more — that zeroing in on kratom is irresponsible.
In her report, Babin noted that the FDA actually admits that the reports it uses for the 44 allegedly kratom-linked deaths are often incomplete.
Lastly, the FDA has been joined in its attacks on kratom by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As a public policy organization, the American Kratom Association (AKA) is hesitant to attack a respected scientific group such as the CDC. But we are very concerned that the FDA’s ideology has seeped into the CDC.
In February, the CDC issued a report that 23 kratom users had been found with salmonella. The CDC immediately recommended that nobody use kratom. However, as Babin noted in a press call hosted by the AKA on March 5, the CDC has not issued similar warnings when egg, ice cream, and other salmonella outbreaks were recorded. IT has simply warned about specific batches without going after the entire product.
Furthermore, the CDC acted in bad faith when conducting its research. We at the AKA were told by one couple that the CDC’s researcher refused to listen to their full story about getting salmonella — focusing only on kratom and not other probable factors.
The anti-science ideologies in the federal bureaucracy are heartbreaking and will have real consequences for real people. Thirty-five thousand Americans have signed a petition urging the White House to step in and conduct real research on kratom. We at the AKA know that research and proper regulation is important and we hope President Donald Trump does as well. We urge him to do the right thing.
Dave Herman is the chairman of the board for the American Kratom Association. Herman has served in a variety of senior executive roles for non-profit and for-profit organizations, and he has testified before Congress on health care policy.