Washington, D.C. - February 26, 2019 – FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb's incessant anti-kratom tweets, Public Health Alerts, and continued pleas to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to schedule kratom, take me back to the early 1990's when the FDA's similar attacks on vitamins and dietary supplements demonized any substance that could not be required to submit a new drug application.
Like Commissioner Gottlieb's latest twitter attacks on kratom, the FDA was hell-bent then to seize hyper-regulatory control over every decision any American consumer makes on what products they want to use to maintain their health and well-being.
But that has not stopped the FDA from deliberately ignoring their duty to provide truthful and reliable information on the safety of consumer products. That is one of the major purposes for which the FDA exists, but they have put blinders on when it comes to natural plants that consumers prefer over chemical formulations of Big Pharma drugs.
Both have their place in our health care system, but that is not the case if you believe Commissioner Gottlieb.
The FDA says kratom is a dangerous opioid that has the same effects of fentanyl or heroin. Commissioner Gottlieb says kratom is killing people just like those deadly opioids.
Those claims are not true.
Most modern pharmaceuticals have their origins in plants because of the power of alkaloids contained in them, but that does not automatically make the natural plants dangerous or deadly.
The issue is that some unscrupulous "bad-actors" have decided to spike natural kratom with toxic doses of dangerous drugs. And the FDA then leaps to the incorrect conclusion these adulterated kratom products are just the natural kratom.
The National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) pressure tested the FDA claims that kratom is associated with 44 deaths, and they concluded those claimed deaths were actually caused by poly-drug users who abuse dangerous drugs or were caused by people who used an adulterated kratom product. Those consumers likely thought they were just using the natural kratom plant, but it was actually spiked with dangerous drug substances.
The latest gambit by Commissioner Gottlieb is to point to Poison Control Center reports that show that between 2011 and 2017 calls about kratom have spiked dramatically, from just 63 calls in 2011 to 682 in 2017.
In fact, 65% of the Poison Control Center calls were between 2016-2017, tracking precisely the high-profile and misleading public relations campaign by the FDA to demonize kratom across America.
Commissioner Gottlieb went on national television and loudly proclaimed kratom kills people, it is a dangerous opioid that is highly addictive, and no one should use it. It is no mystery why kratom calls have increased with the onslaught of misleading information from the FDA.
What the FDA does not tell people is that they had initially launched an aggressive public campaign to demonize kratom in 2012, and it continues to this day. The FDA does not tell people that 35% of the calls were actually about poly-drug use, not just kratom. The FDA does not tell people that the Poison Control Center data does not delineate if the call was about adulterated kratom or natural kratom.
If the American public, and Congress, had accepted what the FDA said in the 1990s about dietary supplements and vitamins, and all of those products had been removed from the market in favor of big PhRMA's more expensive product line, then Americans would have fewer freedoms today, would be sicker, and many Americans would have died unnecessarily.
We are at that same crossroads today, and while science should prevail, mudslinging continues to be thrown by Commissioner Gottlieb without any regard to the truth about kratom.
Dave Herman Chairman, American Kratom Association
The American Kratom Association (AKA), a consumer-based non-profit organization, advocates to protect the freedom of consumers to safely consume natural kratom as a part of their personal health and well-being regimen. AKA represents the nearly 5 million Americans who consume kratom safely each year. www.americankratom.org
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