Category Archives: FDA

Kratom for Pain Relief? What’s that?

Mitragyna speciosa, aka “kratom,” is a tropical plant in the coffee family, native to Southeast Asia, historically used in Thailand for its medicinal qualities. Thailand banned kratom in 1943 due to abuse and now North Carolina, among other states, is seeking to set limits on the drug too.

 

What’s the concern about kratom? According to a state senator in North Carolina, the state medical examiner found the drug in 24 people while investigating their deaths. Additionally, the FDA warns that  “consumption of kratom can lead to a number of health impacts, including respiratory depression, nervousness, agitation, aggression, sleeplessness, hallucinations, delusions, tremors . . . “ and more.

 

Technically, kratom is categorized as a “botanic dietary supplement.” Thus, the FDA cannot intervene unless kratom is shown to be unsafe or its producers claim that it treats a medical condition. For decades (if not longer), workers in Thailand used kratom to ward off exhaustion, enhance their mood, and to alleviate pain. Modern proponents of kratom say it’s a natural painkiller and that it helps people avoid or wean off opiates and narcotics. In fact, some business in North Carolina will even serve you kratom tea (described as “green brown sludge . . . ladled from some South Pacific swamp”). Generally, kratom can be found in convenience stores and, of course, online. However, some states (e.g. Indiana, Tennesssee, Vermont, and Wyoming) have already banned kratom entirely.

 

Overall, there’s not a consensus on the health effects of the plant. Some say it’s like trading one addiction for another. It’s a very gray, murky area. If Kratom is being used, be wary.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Set for April 26

Today’s post comes from guest author Emily Wray Stander, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Mark your calendars! As part of spring cleaning duties, I know people are sorting through the stuff in their homes, donating what they can, and figuring out how to recycle or dispose of what can’t be donated. As a mom of a child with food allergies who requires the use of epinephrine auto-injectors, I realize the challenge in making sure expired or no-longer-needed prescriptions are exposed of appropriately, because of the needles and strong medicine involved in this type of prescription. Many prescriptions should not be thrown away or, worse, flushed down the toilet to affect the water supply. Unused prescription drugs can also be dangerous to people for whom they are not prescribed, so it’s essential to dispose of these prescription drugs properly.

A number of the firm’s clients are injured workers who are often prescribed medication as a consequence of a work injury. But not all of these medications are used or needed, and some even expire, and then sit at home taking up space because folks don’t know what to do with them.

Please extend your spring cleaning to April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This program is coordinated with local law enforcement through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Administration Office of Diversion Control.

The Office of Diversion Control website gives a couple of search options to find a site near you that accepts “unused or expired medication for safe disposal.” Either search by zip code or by county/city and state via either of the two links on the site listed above.

The direct link to the search tends to “time out” and essentially sends you back to the site above, so it’s easiest to click through where it mentions “Locate collection sites” or “Click here for a collection site near you.” In addition, an 800 number, 1-800-882-9539, is available for people to ask questions about the program by speaking to customer-service representatives. But believe me when I say it’s easier to find this information on the website than it is to try to speak with someone. After a couple of easy searches on the website, I am pleased that there are what I consider a reasonable number of sites available in both Nebraska and Iowa.

Why should you and I care to make the effort of participating in a drug take-back day? This informative website from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration explains in general terms about disposing unused medicine, and it seems that dropping the drugs off at an approved site on April 26 is one of the easier options. In addition to the general good feeling people get from the act of reducing clutter, returning unused, unneeded medicines to a take-back event means we all don’t have to worry about the medicine getting into the water supply, which sometimes happens through flushing, or getting into the hands of a person who might abuse it, which can happen when meds are thrown away. See the site above for additional “Guidelines for Drug Disposal” if there’s not a drug take-back day available close by, so people can make sure medications are disposed of safely.

Thanks in advance for keeping us all safer by disposing of unneeded prescription medicine properly.