Despite showing promise as a safer alternative to prescription and illicit opioids, the plant-based drug kratom has had a bad 2018 so far. In February, the Food and Drug Administration published a report on kratom’s opioid properties, and in March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of Salmonella-tainted kratom. Underscoring the severity of the situation, the FDA demanded a recall of some kratom products on Tuesday.
In an announcement, the FDA issued a mandatory recall of all kratom products that had been handled in any way by Las Vegas-based Triangle Pharmanaturals. This is the FDA’s first-ever mandatory food recall, the announcement indicates. Triangle Pharmanaturals, it seems, did not cooperate with the FDA’s initial request for a voluntary recall. In light of the ongoing multi-state Salmonella outbreak, which has sickened at least 87 people in 35 states, the FDA is handling the situation as an urgent public health matter.
“This action is based on the imminent health risk posed by the contamination of this product with salmonella, and the refusal of this company to voluntarily act to protect its customers and issue a recall, despite our repeated requests and actions,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said in the statement. “We continue to have serious concerns about the safety of any kratom-containing product and we are pursuing these concerns separately. But the action today is based on the risks posed by the contamination of this particular product with a potentially dangerous pathogen.”
This mandatory recall comes amid controversy surrounding kratom, as the FDA’s March report calling the drug opioid-like contained scientific evidence that some experts argue doesn’t actually prove that point. Additionally, the case reports supporting the FDA’s claims that the drug has contributed to 36 deaths include a multitude of other drugs, leading skeptics to argue that the mandatory recall is just part of the FDA’s ongoing war on kratom.
While critics may question the FDA’s evidence for changing kratom’s legal status, the latest move does appear to be in the public interest, especially since it only pertains to one brand of kratom product. The FDA recommends that anyone who still has any of the affected products disposes of them.
The legal landscape is quickly shifting for kratom, and bad news like this doesn’t help the people who rely on the drug for relief from opioid dependency and chronic pain, but Salmonella infection is a sign that the underground kratom market has serious pitfalls.