Nearly a year to the date from the failed, extra-judicial attempted ban of kratom two deaths were attributed to its use. Kratom is related to the coffee plant and has been used for centuries as a folk medicine. A recent analysis commissioned by the American Kratom Association has shone a light on the recent tragic deaths of police Sgt. Matthew Dana in Tupper Lake, New York, and Christopher Waldron in Hillsborough County, Florida. The report was written up by Jane K. Babin, Ph.D., molecular biology (Purdue University) and JD (University of San Diego School of Law) and found the following:
"Both of these cases appear to add to the long list of mistaken, inaccurate, and now discredited reports implicating kratom … Because of so many questions surrounding Sgt. Dana's death remains unanswered, any reasonable person should refrain from drawing conclusions on the role of kratom or mitragynine in his death until full autopsy and toxicology reports are made available to the public …."
<blockquote>"[T]here is precedent for the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner getting it wrong in high profile cases. It singled out a more controversial substance (cocaine) as the cause of the heart disease that killed OxiClean pitchman, Billy Mays, despite finding painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and alcohol in his system at the time of his death. A second autopsy, commissioned by the family, demonstrated that 'the autopsy specimens and findings were not consistent with the cardiac conditions normally observed in a person chronically using cocaine' and concluded that cocaine was not the cause of Mr. Mays' death. Based on the totality of circumstances, any reasonable person could be confident that kratom did not kill Christopher Waldron any more than cocaine killed Billy Mays."</blockquote>
In the case of Sgt. Matthew Dana Dr. Babin notes that the coroner only tested for opioids rather than substances like anabolic steroids which could have led to death by pulmonary edema, which has never occurred in humans or laboratory animals from kratom. In the case of Christopher Waldron, Dr. Babin notes he was taking two contraindicated medications in a potentially lethal dosage. One of the medications would have been contraindicated regardless to other exacerbating circumstances.
Toxicologist Karl V. Ebner, Ph.D., is a consultant with KETox Forensic Toxicology Consulting. Dr. Ebner was formerly a forensic toxicologist with the Toledo Metro Drug unit and senior scientist at Abbott Laboratories. His research has been published in various drug and alcohol-related journals and reviews. He corroborated Dr. Babin's findings:
<blockquote>"While I did not author this report, I have had the opportunity to review it. And what I see here are very troubling indications that these deaths may have been incorrectly attributed to kratom in the face of other causes, including possible anabolic steroid use in one case and contraindicated prescription medication(s) interactions that could kill on their own. These families are owed the best evidence about what happened to their loved ones, not what would appear to be some conclusions that are incompletely supported by the current evidence."</blockquote>
Dave Herman, chair of the American Kratom Association also commented, "Let me be very clear about this: We do not believe that kratom caused these deaths. That's what the science tells us. And superficial and less than thorough examinations and suggestions to the contrary – as in these two cases – do not change the facts. Given that there are millions of kratom consumers in the U.S., if this botanical was dangerous it would stand to reason that there would be thousands … or even tens of thousands of deaths … and that is absolutely not the case."