Kratom at Center of Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Mitragynina speciosa or Kratom leaves with powder product in white ceramic bowl on wood table and blurred nature background

Atlanta, GA—A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in Georgia against individuals, companies, and organizations connected to the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of kratom, according to the Associated Press (AP). The suit was filed by Dana and John Pope  followed the death of their 23-year-old son, Ethan Pope.

As AP reports, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy found that Ethan Pope died from mitragynine intoxication; mitragynine is a psychoactive compound in kratom. He had no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system.

As WholeFoods Magazine has reported, therapeutically, people report using kratom to self-medicate a variety of disorders, including pain, opioid withdrawal, opioid use disorder, anxiety, and depression. The plant is used as part of traditional medicine in some countries. In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided against a critical review and subsequent scheduling of kratom, according to the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) Summary assessments, findings, and recommendations. WHO reported that the main psychoactive components of kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, two alkaloids. 7-hydroxymitragynine is also a metabolite of mitragynine.

A closer look at the Kratom wrongful death lawsuit

An announcement from Wetherington Law Firm, which is working with Ashby | Thelen | Lowry on the suit, outlines the scope of the lawsuit: It identifies more than a dozen defendants, including manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of Kratom products. The suit includes former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official Mac Haddow, and the American Kratom Association (AKA). “Haddow is the current Senior Fellow on Public Policy for AKA,” the firm explained. “According to the suit, AKA is involved in a scheme to falsely certify kratom products as safe to deceive the public.”

Related: Kratom for Chronic Pain? MDs discuss Kratom as a pain relief option used under a healthcare provider’s guidance.

Daniel Delnero, a lawyer for AKA, released an emailed statement to the AP in response to the suit: “The American Kratom Association is a consumer advocacy group dedicated to education and responsible use of Kratom. It was improperly added to this lawsuit, and we will vigorously defend the spurious claims against it.”

Regulatory Update on Kratom

At the AHPA Regulatory Congress, taking place virtually on November 15, 2022, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) will be offering an update on regulatory priorities for the dietary supplement and natural products industries, and the session will include an update on kratom by Will Woodlee, Partner, Kleinfeld, Kaplan & Becker, LLP; AHPA General Counsel. Find additional details and register here.

Related: WHO Decides Against Scheduling Kratom
FDA Announces Seizure of $1.3m in Kratom
4 Kratom Companies Sent FDA Warning Letters