A Descriptive Study of the Online Kratom Market, an Opioid Alternative Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • September 20, 2019
  • Nikitin, Dmitriy
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management
  • Objective: Examine the online industry for kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), a plant-based substance used by Americans as an opioid alternative, and provide context to the market amidst regulatory attempts by the Food and Drug Administration and numerous state legislatures. Methods: Using search results collected from the three most widely used search engines, 663 websites were identified selling kratom products to US consumers. The top 100 most visited online vendors were selected and the content of their website and social media profiles were coded for topics including location, payment and shipping options, age verification, health warnings and disclaimers, grassroots advocacy regarding upcoming state and federal regulations, and response to the recent kratom-linked Salmonella outbreak. Results: 25% of vendors made claims that kratom provided relief from opioid withdrawal. 81% of vendors featured a disclaimer that kratom is addictive, with 54% stating that the product is not FDA approved. Only 5% of vendors utilized effective age verification through confirming age on delivery or use of a third party online database. Enforcement of state and locality bans on the vendor's part varied by location; 65% vendors did not sell to Indiana whereas only 27% prohibited sales to Rhode Island. Conclusions: The kratom internet vendor industry (KIV) was found to have low adherence to US state-level restrictions on the products’ purchase. There is a high prevalence of health claims featured on vendor webpages that are discouraged by the Food and Drug Administration.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Trogdon, Justin
  • Master of Science in Public Health
Academic concentration
  • Health Policy Management
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018
Deposit record
  • 76d1b3eb-de4f-4397-b135-c79a62dabde6

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