Kratom consumer protection law will add much-needed regulation to market

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Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa as it is botanically called, is a traditional Southeast Asian medicine that has been used by indigenous people for centuries to increase stamina, improve mood, treat pain, and alleviate withdrawal symptoms of opioids. It was this latter use that caught our attention from a research perspective during the global opioid crisis.

Christopher R. McCurdy [ Provided ]

For over 25 years, one of us (McCurdy) has studied the design, synthesis and development of drugs to treat pain, anxiety and substance use disorders. Although more research is urgently needed, over the past 15 years my team has studied kratom and its chemical constituents to understand how they may be useful in treating the many conditions with which it has been anecdotally linked. The first priority was to investigate the potential of kratom to reduce harm in people dependent on opioids and to provide the medical community with solid scientific data to support or refute these claims.

Olivier Grundman
Olivier Grundman [ Provided ]

Over the past seven years, one of us (Grundmann) has studied usage patterns and motivations for kratom consumption in the United States indicating that self-treatment is prevalent for both acute and chronic pain, anxiety and depressive disorders and alleviation of substance withdrawal symptoms. use disorders.

In 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91,799 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. This was a staggering 31% higher rate than in 2019. Florida recorded nearly 8,000 deaths during this time. There is no doubt that the pandemic has contributed to this increase; However, the treatment options currently used for substance use disorders or substance abuse are not sufficient to alleviate the current reality.

Although traditional use of kratom has continued for centuries with no serious harm reported, in the United States kratom products have been implicated in toxicology reports as a contributing factor to death in some cases. . It is important to note that in the overwhelming majority of these cases, kratom was not ingested alone. Still, several possible reasons could explain the differences seen in the United States, including the difference in how kratom products are shipped, stored, or aged and how an individual approaches the intent of their use.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has banned the import of kratom into the United States, but the products are widely available in the American market. In fact, in June 2019, approximately 1,950 metric tons of kratom were exported to the United States per month. Consequently, a large population of Americans use kratom as a self-medication or recreational substance for the aforementioned, scientifically under-researched indications.

In the United States, there is currently not enough regulatory enforcement to ensure that dietary supplements or products like kratom are sold to consumers as standardized, high-quality, and pure plant material. Without improved regulatory oversight to protect consumers, individuals could purchase counterfeit or substandard (suspect) products from retail establishments that sell kratom. Worse still, unregulated kratom products could be adulterated with other hazardous substances.

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As is the case with other readily available over-the-counter products and supplements, kratom has pharmacological effects that can interfere with and affect other medications and pre-existing health conditions. It is in the interest of consumers and the public to ensure that available kratom products are properly regulated. Allowing a lack of regulatory standards could do more to harm and undermine more research that is so important to future regulatory decisions at the federal level.

The Florida Legislature currently has the option to pass the Florida Kratom Consumer Protection Act (SB 1076) which would require products sold in the state to meet a higher bar of product purity, establish labeling requirements and limit sales to consumers 21 and older. This is an essential step to put in place regulations and increase the safety of the products that consumers have at their disposal.

With this legislation, the future of kratom research and education of the public and medical professionals will be strengthened. There is a substantial lack of understanding of kratom in the medical community. Nevertheless, consumers should consult their doctor or pharmacist if they wish to take kratom. By improving the regulatory environment and increasing awareness of kratom in the state, opportunities for elevating knowledge and research will surely follow. The bill currently being proposed in Florida is an important step in the standardization and regulation of kratom as we increase our scientific knowledge.

Christopher R. McCurdy is a professor at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy and director of the UF Translational Drug Development Core. Oliver Grundmann is a clinical professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at UF College of Pharmacy.

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