FDA Adds to Kratom Safety Concerns Linking Multistate Salmonella Outbreak

FDA Adds to Kratom Safety Concerns Linking Multistate Salmonella Outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control said it's investigating early signs of an epidemic of salmonella cases related to an opium substitute, kratom.

"At this time, CDC recommends that people not consume kratom in any form because it could be contaminated with Salmonella", the CDC advised in its bulletin. In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration tried but failed to classify the plant as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.

When patients were interviewed about what they ate in the months before becoming ill, eight of 11 patients (73 percent) said they had consumed kratom pills, powers or teas, according to the CDC. Unfortunately, that reality is being reflected in shipments of kratom products contaminated with salmonella.

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Kratom is traditionally crushed and made into team but is also chewed, smoked or taken in capsule form.

Kratom is a natural plant grown in parts of Asia that advocates say can help ease pain and reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal, but which critics say can lead to addiction and death. The FDA is making efforts to tamp down on misbranded or unapproved drugs entering the country to stop the flow of kratom.

The CDC's announcement comes two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released detailed information about 36 people who died after taking kratom and declared that the product likely contains opioids.

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Kratom has never gained FDA approval and is largely unregulated - meaning that, as with most supplements, it's nearly impossible to verify what's actually in "kratom" pills, powders, or teas. The agency has also been assessing peer-reviewed research and a growing number of adverse event reports associated with kratom use, including 44 reported deaths. The data adds to the FDA's evidence supporting the safety concerns and abuse potential of kratom, Gottlieb said.

"Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to prescription opioids", said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement.

"I want to be clear on one fact: there are now no FDA-approved therapeutic uses of kratom", Gottlieb said.

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