Contribute Try STAT+ Today

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday issued a public health advisory about the potential risks of an herbal supplement called kratom, warning that people who use it to treat pain in place of opioids or to wean themselves off opioids are exposing themselves to an unregulated product that has not been proven safe or effective.

The announcement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is sure to rile devoted kratom users, who contend the supplement has provided them with a way to manage pain, anxiety, and a range of other conditions.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!


What is it?

STAT+ is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • STAT+ Conversations
  • Weekly opportunities to engage with our reporters and leading industry experts in live video conversations
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.
  • Reporting a 10-fold increase in poison control center calls due to kratom in this article is extremely misleading. Please don’t just parrot what others are saying. We don’t need STAT for that. This 10-fold increase is from 26 to 263 calls nationwide over 5 years. Yes, I know you clarified it in your previous article, but it is lazy and biased toward an alarmist point of view to not state that here. Poison Control Centers received over 2 million calls in 2016 ( From a survey, we know that there are at least 10,000 regular kratom users in the US. Considering the size of the opioid epidemic, I personally am reassured about the safety of kratom when there are only 265 PCC calls. Does kratom have potential harms? Yes. Should we be studying them? Yes. But we should also be studying the potential benefits. I would hate to see the medical community lose the opportunity to study this potentially beneficial drug because of what appears to be a change in the prevailing political point of view at the DEA, and now the FDA. Remember that kratom is available here as a dietary supplement as a consequence of Orin Hatch’s legislation. It’s hard to have it both ways.

  • I have taken kratom for pain off and on since 2008. Almost 10 YEARS. No addiction, NO chaos, NO issues whatsoever. Before that it was two years of pain meds that had my life and my body go through even more hell. There is NO HIGH from Kratom! Unless you count being out of pain and having my LIFE back. Those in my family and friends who have tried it since this “controversy” have ALL been shocked by how MILD this plant is. The usual response is “Are you kidding me? That’s ALL?” STOP demonizing kratom. It should be pretty clear why the FDA does not want the public to have access to it. Open your EYES and maybe actually try it. Only then will you realize how much of a WITCH hunt this is.

Comments are closed.