A proposed class action lawsuit claims O.P.M.S. has failed to warn consumers about the “perniciously addictive” nature of its kratom powders, capsules and liquid extracts.
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The 28-page lawsuit says that the “innocuous” packaging of each O.P.M.S. product and “bog-standard disclaimer” on each back label mislead consumers about the addictive potential of the kratom supplements. In addition, the suit contends that the company’s “pleasant-looking” leaf-like logo and the shape of the extract bottle—similar to that of a 5-Hour Energy shot—also mislead buyers into believing that the products are safe for consumption without the risk of dependency, the suit alleges.
The case stresses that kratom—a dried leaf typically marketed as an herbal supplement that creates a “natural” high—triggers the same brain receptors as opioids such as morphine while producing comparable effects and, crucially, posing similar risks of physical addiction and withdrawal.
“Kratom is perniciously addictive—on a whole different level than caffeine or nicotine—and it has sunk its hooks into tens of thousands of unsuspecting consumers and caused them serious physical, psychological, and financial harm,” the complaint relays.
Defendant Martian Sales, Inc., which does business as O.P.M.S., short for Optimized Plant Mediated Solutions, is purportedly the country’s leading brand of kratom products and specializes in kratom extracts, which are “vastly more potent” than powder, the suit describes.
For instance, one O.P.M.S. Gold extract capsule, containing 200 milligrams of kratom extract, houses a dose of alkaloids—the chemicals in the kratom plant that create the psychoactive effect—equivalent to up to seven grams of kratom powder, the case explains. One 8.8-milliliter shot of O.P.M.S. Gold liquid extract—even more powerful—contains alkaloids equal to up to 15 grams of kratom powder, the complaint relays.
Further, the filing claims that the company’s “Black” line of capsules and liquid extracts “go[es] even further,” with alkaloid concentrations “35 times greater than their ‘Gold’ extracts and regular kratom leaf powder.”
According to the lawsuit, “the alkaloid levels in a single O.P.M.S. Black Extract capsule [are] equivalent to roughly 119mg of morphine.”
Although it is often advertised as a “safe” alternative to painkillers, kratom is recognized by health professionals as fundamentally similar to an opioid, with withdrawal symptoms that mirror those of conventional opiates, the filing relays. Symptoms of kratom withdrawal can include “irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, depression, sleep disturbance including restless legs, tearing up, runny nose, muscle and bone pain, muscle spasms, diarrhea, decreased appetite, chills, inability to control temperature, and extreme dysphoria and malaise,” the lawsuit shares.
“What is particularly insidious about kratom is that, at the early stages, many users are unaware of its negative side effects and its addictive potential, so when they begin to experience the malaise of addiction they do not attribute it to the kratom. Rather, they take more of the substance thinking that it is helping them with their malaise.”
Reasonable consumers, the suit argues, do not expect kratom extract bottles and powder pouches, which they can buy at gas stations and convenience stores, to pose the same addiction risks as traditional opioids like morphine. The case contends that O.P.M.S. “relies on its Products’ innocuous packaging and the public’s limited knowledge about kratom and its pharmacology to get users addicted, while reaping profits along the way.”
The plaintiff, a California resident, first purchased O.P.M.S. kratom extracts in 2018 and believed the products posed no risk of dependence because he saw no warnings on the label, the complaint says. For years, the man consumed about five liquid extract shots a day and spent up to $700 per week on the products, the filing shares. As the suit tells it, the plaintiff was “wracked by intense physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms,” similar to those of conventional opiates, whenever he stopped consuming the products.
The plaintiff claims that after recognizing the addiction in 2020, he was “held captive by the specter of withdrawal.”
“Amid the [opiate crisis in the United States], [O.P.M.S.] is creating more addicts for no reason other than to line its pockets, without adequate disclosures of its products’ risks and through the use of false and misleading packaging,” the case scathes. “That cannot—and should not—be allowed.”
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone residing in California who purchased O.P.M.S. kratom products within the applicable statute of limitations period.
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