There was a time when Kratom was moving up in the world. In 2016, IEN reported on the natural painkiller that, for much of its life, was being touted as a safe, effective and non-addictive alternative to the opioids that were killing tens of thousands of Americans every year. Derived from a tree in the coffee family, Kratom has been used for generations in powders, pills and gums for the treatment of chronic pain.
But the FDA has had Kratom in its crosshairs for some time, and in late 2017, the agency issued a public health advisory on the drug, followed up by a study that suggested that the supplement actually had the same kind of addictive qualities as opioids.
And now, things just got worse. The FDA has announced that it will oversee the recall and destruction of massive amounts of Kratom after reports that the substance has been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella. But what’s strange is, despite the fact that 11 people have been reportedly hospitalized, the FDA says its Kratom-burning party is unrelated to the illnesses: it was just going to destroy a bunch of it anyway as part of an agreement it made with a Missouri-based distributor of Kratom-containing supplements.
In fact, the Kratom that’s being destroyed isn’t the stuff that’s making people sick, but that’s not stopping FDA chief Scott Gottlieb from using the Salmonella outbreak as a scapegoat, and trying to encourage other manufacturers and distributors of supplements to ditch Kratom altogether to “protect public health.” Just a reminder that Kratom is not illegal, however, its murky, unregulated status seems to have put a target on its back.