Via RT America: Host of America’s Lawyer Mike Papantonio joins RT America’s Ed Schulz to break down how big pharma is pushing the FDA to criminalize kratom. Papantonio alleges this new drug has the potential to interfere with the profits pharmaceutical companies reap from painkillers currently on the market.


Ed Schultz: For more on this story tonight, we go to Mike Papantonio, host of America’s Lawyer, and who has been on the forefront of this opioid crisis working legal cases around the country. Mike, good to have you with us tonight. Your thoughts on what you just heard in that story, whereas there are still officials who say that this is a drug that can be very helpful. Your thoughts.

Mike Papantonio: Well, it can be. Anytime the FDA starts one of these hysterias, I worry about the FDA. Look, I work against and with the FDA all the time. Had Kratom had the name Merck or Pfizer or Bayer on top of it, we wouldn’t be seeing any of this. I can promise you when all the smoke clears on this Kratom hysteria, we will see that the drug industry are the people who are pushing the FDA to do this. I want to put in perspective. There’s an 80 milligram opioid Oxycontin that’s on the market right now. It’s totally unnecessary, completely unnecessary. It’s the equivalent, Ed, of a person taking 24 Vicodins. 80 milligrams, the equivalent of 24 Vicodins.

Right now, the FDA has been told, “Get it off the market because all it is, is a street drug.” And the industry has known that a long time. 80 milligram opioid is completely … It’s not even something we need, but the industry’s behind it. You see, it’s got an industry drug manufacturer big pharma name to it, so the FDA does nothing, but they create this Kratom hysteria, and that’s all it is. If you really take a look at the cases that they say, 44 deaths, that is absurd. I’ve got one case I took a look at. This individual was taking Olanzapine, Pregabalin. He was suffering from OCD, depression, schizophrenia. He had all of those drugs in his body. And you know what, they said, “Well he took Kratom and that caused the death.” At least half of those 44 cases we’re talking about are just like that.

FDA will never do anything that crosses big pharma, and that’s what we’re seeing right here. If FDA really wants to do their job, like they should have done 15 years ago, they would have been involved in getting involved in the opioid crisis, having better warnings, warning doctors about what could happen, helping to close down pill mills. The FDA is wholly owned by the industry. And I’m telling you, I can say that. I’ve worked against them for 35 years. I’ve handled virtually every major pharmaceutical case in this country that’s gone to trial. And every time, we see the FDA lining up with big pharma. My call on this one is, that’s what they’re doing with Kratom. They’ve gotten a phone call saying, “We’ve got to do something about Kratom. It’s interfering with the drugs that we’re putting on the market.”

Ed Schultz: So, there is one word that is the big motivator, and that’s profit. And they’ll do whatever they have to do to get that profit. Is that the bottom line?

Mike Papantonio: That is exactly the bottom line. And big pharma pushes them exactly the direction the FDA … The FDA will do anything big pharma wants them to do. This is another example of that. Is Kratom causing some problems? It may be, but what about the drugs that are out there that the FDA has known about for 20 years and they refuse to do anything? They’re killing thousands of people. 170 people will die today. 170 people will die today because of the inaction and the FDA being asleep at the wheel again. Intentionally being asleep at the wheel, by the way.

Ed Schultz: Finally, Mike, how hard is it fighting these companies legally? Do you have a legal synopsis at this point?

Mike Papantonio: Well, this is a great example. The case that we’re handling against the opioid manufacturers. They have billions of dollars. The influence goes to Congress, it goes to the medical profession, it goes to the Chamber of Commerce. It is a one-way street where it comes to taking on big pharma. And typically every case that we handle is just like that. Big money, big influence, big politics. It is a Goliath and David kind of fight, but you know what. This is one we’re gonna win if they will throw some of these CEOs in prison for what they’ve done in this opioid crisis. Somebody has to go to jail. That’s the only way I consider this a win.

Ed Schultz: Certainly one of the best in America. Host of America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio here on RT America. Thanks, Mike. Appreciate it.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.