A father sat down and had his last meal with his wife and son after mixing a store-bought supplement – kratom – into his orange juice, according to his family.
While they were at the table, Peter McPherson started shaking before collapsing and becoming unconscious in Georgia on Nov. 19, 2020, attorneys representing his family tell McTlaw. His wife and son tried to perform CPR on him before he was taken to a nearby hospital in Chatsworth, a town about 85 miles north of Atlanta, and pronounced dead.
The Gordon County medical examiner has ruled that McPherson died of ‘acute mitragynine (kratom) toxicity’, according to a new wrongful death lawsuit filed in Gwinnett County by the family.
Now the family is suing the makers, distributors and sellers of the specific kratom product McPherson took before his death, “Expert Kratom” powder, and say they are to blame, a complaint states.
“Peter and I dreamed of growing old together and playing with our grandchildren,” his widow, Kasandra McPherson, told McClatchy News in a Dec. 12 statement. “These dreams are replaced by sadness and emptiness.”
“I just hope others don’t go through what we had to go through with kratom,” McPherson added.
McClatchy News contacted Expert Botanicals, which makes Expert Kratom powder and is named as one of the defendants, for comment on Dec. 12 and did not immediately receive a response.
Kratom, often sold as a dietary or herbal supplementis becoming increasingly popular in the United States and was responsible for the deaths of 91 people from July 2016 to December 2017, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2019.
What is kratom?
Mitragyna speciosa, or kratom, is a plant native to Southeast Asia that is not approved for any use by the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA says it may expose those who use it to “risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence”, and warns against its use after receiving “concerning reports” about its safety.
In smaller doses, kratom can produce stimulating effects, according to the CDC. If taken in higher doses, it can produce opioid-like effects.
“The kratom industry has become so profitable that it is following the lead of big tobacco, hiring lobbyists who work to keep the kratom market open for business,” said Mctlaw attorney Talis Abolins, who represents the McPherson family lawsuit, to McClatchy News in a Dec. 12 statement.
“Consumers should be warned that kratom is unsafe and has never been approved for human consumption,” Abolins added.
McPherson was 43 years old when he died after taking kratom, according to his obituary.
Under Georgian law, any Kratom sold as is is required to have a label declaring information about the product, including any “warnings” about its safety.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are accused of marketing and selling kratom products “based on unproven and misleading claims regarding its safety and ability to cure, treat, or prevent medical conditions and disease,” indicates the complaint.
The kratom product McPherson consumed, Expert Kratom, lacked safety warnings about its potential risks of abuse, dependence, dependence, overdose and death, according to the complaint.
Additionally, it has been marketed as a “safe and effective alternative to prescription anxiety and/or pain medication,” the complaint states.
If McPherson had been properly warned of the potential safety risks, he “would not have consumed the toxic levels of mitragynine that ultimately killed him,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of failing to follow Georgian law in the sale and marketing of its Kratom products and of negligence in several respects.
It requires a jury trial.
Kasandra McPherson told McClatchy News that her husband’s death makes the holidays “especially difficult”.
“Peter was an only child and it affected his parents tremendously,” she said. “His granddaughter Evelyn will never know her grandfather!”
Abolins, the family’s attorney, said that “although nothing will bring Peter McPherson back, his family hopes the truth about kratom can be shared so that these tragedies can be stopped.”
Mctlaw’s attorneys filed wrongful death lawsuit in connection with kratom in five different states, according to a Dec. 12 press release.
In the end, scientists are still try to understand kratom wellbecause research on the drug is “relatively new,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.