Police in Chester County, Pa., are sounding the alarm after two men died taking the legal supplement Kratom, known as the herbal opioid.
NBC-10 in Philly reports the two victims of the accidental kratom overdoses as Caleb Jonathan Sturgis of West Bradford Township and Ryan Jones of Caln Township.
The Chester County Coroner’s Office has listed both men’s deaths, which occurred earlier this year, as caused by acute mitragynine intoxication after ingesting the botanical supplement kratom. Both ODs have been ruled accidental.
Now Chester County authorities are trying to get the word out about the dangers of kratom.
Kratom is available without a prescription in many parts of the country, and is legal in Pennsylvania.
Officially it is known as mitragyna speciosa and is derived from a plant that grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, according to the FDA.
Kratom affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine and appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse and dependence.
However, there are no FDA-approved uses for kratom, and the agency is getting more reports of its deadly dangers.
“Given the opioid addiction crisis, it would seem preposterous that an opioid is legal for use in the United States and can be purchased at tea stores, convenience stores, over the internet and, yes, even from vending machines,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., wrote in a statement.
Gottlieb added the Drug Enforcement Agency tried to ban the herb in 2016, but dropped its attempt after public outcry from users as well as 51 congress members from around the country and across the political aisle. Some of its supporters argue it could be an alternative to drugs like OxyContin.
Supporters of the supplement insist kratom is actually helping end the opioid epidemic by easing addicts’ withdraw symptoms. And they say it is too mild a substance to cause an overdose death on its own, adding that victims often have plethora of substances in their systems.
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