In a new statement issued by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., the agency warns about stronger evidence of opioid properties found in an unapproved, herbal supplement called kratom. In November 2017, the Food and Drug Administration warned the public about products containing kratom, which are often marketed as “safe” alternative treatments for conditions like anxiety, depression, and pain.
According to the FDA, kratom produces effects in the body that are similar to narcotics and carries risks for abuse, addiction, and death. This new statement provides details about the scientific tools, data, and research used by the FDA to evaluate kratom safety, including the Public Health Assessment via Structural Evaluation (PHASE) methodology, which utilized 3-D computer technology to determine the molecular structure of 25 compounds in kratom and how they may behave in the body and affect the brain.
Using this analysis, the FDA concluded that the most common compounds in kratom share structural similarities with controlled opioid analgesics, such as morphine derivatives.