By Phil  |  02-10-2018   News
Photo credit: Credit | thenectar.com

A delegation of seven scientists have taken the FDA to task on their improper classification of kratom as an "opioid" substance and the warning that the South East Asian plant from the coffee family could "worsen the opioid epidemic." Kratom made history last year when it became the first substance to beat an attempted emergency scheduling by the DEA. Bipartisan support from both houses of Congress, testimonies from several scientists, medical professionals, pharmacologist and thousands of kratom consumers with a variety of conditions who have found the plant improved their quality of life. The scientists have all spent years studying kratom and are warning Trump that, contrary to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb's claims, banning the plant might worsen the opiate crisis.

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<a href="https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/9ba5da_086cf409644547d9b4df864f707e0d92.pdf">The letter</a> was sent to Robert Patterson, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency and Kellyanne Conway, who is charged by President Trump with leading the administration's charge against the opiate epidemic. There are major issues with the FDA's claims, not first of which is the fact that kratom (by definition) could not be an opioid. Opioids are synthetic substances and kratom is a botanical product. Then there's the fact that the claims of kratom's "opiate binding properties" ignores the fact that other legal substances like coffee, dairy products and even exercise can exert opiate binding. This is part and parcel of the FDA's attempt to misrepresent the plant and the reason former head of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and world-reknowned authority on drugs and abuse, Dr. Jack Henningfield has previously called the FDA to task on their <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/12994-Addiction-and-Abuse-Expert-Warns-Against-Banning-Kratom">misleading "junk science."</a>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Molecular biologist Dr. Jane Babin, forensic toxicologist Dr. Karl Ebner, former NIDA head Dr. Henningfield, I don&#39;t have room for the names of folks calling the FDA into question in a tweet, but this will help.<a href="https://t.co/tWRhIZGPUE">https://t.co/tWRhIZGPUE</a></p>&mdash; Philip (@kafkaguy) <a href="https://twitter.com/kafkaguy/status/961277331401666560?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 7, 2018</a></blockquote>

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The scientists also point out <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/9790-Experts-Debunk-Kratom-Deaths">how unlikely those "44 deaths" the FDA claims were due to kratom</a>. As has been pointed out before, in every case there were <a href="https://thegoldwater.com/news/11986-FDA-Falsely-Claims-36-Deaths-Related-to-Kratom">other factors that are known to be potentially lethal</a>, whereas kratom hasn't been found to be deadly even to small mammals in laboratory tests to determine its potential toxicity. As they point out, there are several million Americans currently using kratom for whom it's sometimes "a lifeline away from strong, often dangerous opioids." They also point out how a Schedule I ban would effectively end any research into the plant:

<quote>"Placing kratom into Schedule I of the [Controlled Substances Act] will … have a profound and pervasive chilling effect on this needed additional research."</quote>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Strongly agree: If Dr. Gottlieb&#39;s statement were a graduate student&#39;s written qualifying exam on kratom, he would have received a failing grade. <a href="https://t.co/S77lugf6lR">https://t.co/S77lugf6lR</a></p>&mdash; Marta Filizola (@martafilizola) <a href="https://twitter.com/martafilizola/status/962310060008509440?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 10, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Over 42,000 people died from opioid overdose in 2016. Many of these were due to heroin, fentanyl or other prescription painkillers. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb was called into question by several sources for potential <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-health-fda-gottlieb-idUSKBN1702DQ">conflicts of interest</a> before being appointed due to his role in <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nominee-to-head-fda-joined-effort-to-get-a-drug-company-more-fentanyl/2017/04/24/ea761518-26ad-11e7-bb9d-8cd6118e1409_story.html">defending fentanyl manufacturers, Cephalon</a>. Cephalon was under federal scrutiny for illegal marketing to patients outside of the intended market. As Deputy Commissioner, Gottlieb (who has served on the boards of several pharma companies, especially in the field of new investigative drugs) successfully defended Cephalon and even convinced federal authorities to allow them to manufacture even more fentanyl and market it to even more people. Keep in mind, this is in 2006, long before the "opiate crisis" had reached its current extent.

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