WASHINGTON TIMES ARTICLE: AN EXCUSE FOR CRUSHING KRATOM: THE FDA'S UNDUE SCRUTINY IS UNSCIENTIFIC; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 121
(Extensions of Remarks - July 29, 2015)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1164]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




  WASHINGTON TIMES ARTICLE: AN EXCUSE FOR CRUSHING KRATOM: THE FDA'S 
                     UNDUE SCRUTINY IS UNSCIENTIFIC

                                 ______
                                 

                   HON. AUMUA AMATA COLEMAN RADEWAGEN

                           of american samoa

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, July 29, 2015

  Mrs. RADEWAGEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to submit an article from 
the July 23, 2015 edition of the Washington Times entitled, An excuse 
for crushing kratom: The FDA's undue scrutiny is unscientific.

            (By Lloyd Billingsley--Thursday, July 23, 2015)

       Last year, Americans spent an estimated $374 billion on 
     prescription drugs, up 13 percent from the year before. These 
     drugs include OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and others that 
     the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for 
     sale without regard to their potential for abuse.
       Meanwhile, the ``potential for abuse'' was used for many 
     years to block even a discussion of the possible medical 
     benefits of cannabis. And now federal officials are using it 
     again to attack another potential natural remedy, kratom.
       Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), which derives from a tree that 
     grows in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, 
     has been found to reduce pain, lessen dependence on opiates 
     (like OxyContin), and work as a mild stimulant.
       The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration considers kratom a 
     ``drug of concern.'' The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 
     calls it ``dangerous.''
       Last year, U.S. marshals, at the request of the FDA, seized 
     more than 25,000 pounds of raw kratom in Van Nuys, Calif. The 
     action, explained Melinda Plaisier, FDA associate 
     commissioner for regulatory affairs, ``was taken to safeguard 
     the public from this dangerous product.'' Ms. Plaisier called 
     kratom ``a botanical substance that poses a risk to public 
     health and has the potential for abuse.''
       Kratom's potential for benefit was of no apparent concern.
       Edward Boyer, professor of emergency medicine and director 
     of medical toxicology at the University of Massachusetts 
     Medical School, told Scientific American in 2013 that kratom 
     blunts a patient's withdrawal from opioids ``awfully, awfully 
     well.''
       Dr. Boyer explained that kratom binds with serotonin 
     receptors. ``So if you want to treat depression, if you want 
     to treat opioid pain, if you want to treat sleepiness,'' 
     kratom ``really puts it all together.'' It gives addicts 
     access to a drug that effectively treats pain without causing 
     respiratory problems.
       Oregon resident Paul Kemp occasionally uses kratom, he 
     says, to ease back pain, help him relax and gain energy. Last 
     year Mr. Kemp told reporters it was ``ludicrous'' for the FDA 
     to stop the importation of kratom on the grounds that it 
     ``may be'' dangerous, when FDA-approved products such as 
     OxyContin are known to be dangerous.
       Likewise, FDA-approved Xanax and Valium are often abused, 
     along with the ``psychostimulant'' Adderall, used to treat 
     attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
       What bothers the FDA, Mr. Kemp writes, is that kratom is 
     being used very effectively as ``a way for America's 
     prescription drug addicts to break free without experiencing 
     the usually traumatic withdrawal symptoms that stop most 
     victims of OxyContin and other opioids from getting clean.''
       Edward Boyer, the toxicology professor, acknowledges that 
     kratom can be abused, but ``speaking as a scientist, a 
     physician and a practicing clinician, I think the fears of 
     adverse events don't mean you stop the scientific discovery 
     process totally,'' he told Scientific American.
       If big pharma isn't behind something, the attitude seems to 
     be in Washington, legislators and regulators don't even want 
     to talk about it. But talk and listen they should.
       Scientific research should continue. Federal and state 
     officials need to be open-minded, see where the scientific 
     research leads, and consider all the evidence--including the 
     testimony of people like Paul Kemp who swear that kratom has 
     helped them.
       Banning kratom or banning its ingredients, as Indiana has 
     done, is the wrong message at the wrong time.
       A better option at this stage would be to let the voters 
     decide, as California did in 1996 with medicinal marijuana. 
     Let voters decide if Kratom should be banned--without proof--
     as a dangerous menace, or whether individuals suffering from 
     withdrawal pain and other maladies should be free to make 
     their own informed choices.

                          ____________________