LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that the United States Marshals Service seized more than 100 cases of products labeled as containing the dangerous and unapproved ingredient Kratom.
The products are distributed by Nature Therapeutics LLC, which does business as Kratom Therapy and is located in Grover Beach, California. The seized products are marketed under the brand name Kratom Therapy, and are worth approximately $150,000. The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a civil forfeiture complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleging that the seized Kratom products are unapproved new drugs and misbranded drugs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
The FDA is warning consumers not to use any products labeled as containing the botanical substance Kratom. Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as Kratom, grows naturally in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Serious concerns exist regarding the toxicity of Kratom in multiple organ systems. Consumption of Kratom can lead to a number of health impacts including, respiratory depression, vomiting, nervousness, weight loss and constipation. Kratom has been indicated to have both narcotic and stimulant-like effects and withdrawal symptoms may include hostility, aggression, excessive tearing, aching of muscles and bones and jerky limb movements.
"Kratom is a drug that has very serious health effects on users,” said United States Attorney Eileen Decker. “We will continue to partner with the FDA to protect the public from the distribution of unapproved and mislabeled substances like Kratom.”
Prior to the complaint being filed, the FDA inspected the Grover Beach facility and also found that Nature Therapeutics’ website and social media sites included claims establishing that the company’s Kratom Therapy products are drugs because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, or treatment of various diseases. The FDA has not approved Nature Therapeutics’ products for any use. In addition, the complaint alleged that Nature Therapeutics’ products are also misbranded drugs because their labeling fails to provide adequate directions for use. The California Department of Public Health embargoed the products on behalf of the FDA.
“The FDA will continue to take aggressive enforcement action to safeguard the public from harmful drug products illegally marketed as treatments for which they have not been studied or approved,” said Melinda Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs.
In February 2014, the FDA issued an import alert regarding the use of imported dietary supplements and bulk dietary ingredients that are, or contain, Kratom without a physical examination.
Health care professionals and consumers should report any adverse events related to products containing Kratom to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program. To file a report, use the MedWatch Online Voluntary Reporting Form. The completed form can be submitted online or via fax to 1-800-FDA-0178.
This case was handled in the United States Attorney’s office by Assistant United States Attorney Katie Schonbachler.