FDA issues warnings to companies that claim an herbal drug can cure opioid addiction

KEY POINTS

  • The FDA issued warnings to two businesses that are illegally marketing and making “unproven” claims that their products, which contain a drug called kratom, can treat or cure opioid addiction and withdrawal.
  • Kratom, which is an herbal extract that naturally grows outside of the U.S., is not approved by the FDA.
  • By marketing kratom as a potential treatment for opioid abuse, the FDA says the companies could prevent people who are addicted to opioids from seeking proper care.

The Food and Drug Administration recently issued warnings to two businesses that are illegally marketing and making “unproven” claims that their products, which contain a drug called kratom, can treat or cure opioid addiction and withdrawal.

Kratom, which is an herbal extract that naturally grows outside of the U.S., is not approved by the FDA. The drug acts as a stimulant at low doses, according to the Mayo Clinic, but can reduce pain and potentially cause euphoria when taken in higher quantities.

Though some advocates say kratom can be used to quell the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and be used as an alternative to pain medications, the FDA says the drug affects the same brain receptors as morphine and can expose users to addiction and abuse.

The FDA has issued a number of safety warnings associated with the use of kratom, including a multi-state salmonella outbreak that was linked to kratom products. Negative side-effects of the drug can include dizziness, drowsiness, breathing suppression, coma and even death.

On Tuesday, the FDA also advised consumers not to use products made by one of the companies, KratomNC, because of various microorganisms found in the products the FDA said could potentially cause illness. The agency said on June 14 it recommended the company recall all of its products, but KratomNC has yet to do so…

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