ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration said the herbal supplement Kratom contains the same chemicals found in opioids like Oxycontin and even heroin.
Experts said it's likely that the federal government could ban Kratom.
Stores that sell kratom, and customers who take it, say Kratom is safer than prescription painkillers.
Bob Sosville took prescription painkillers for knee and back pain but became concerned about addiction. He has been using Kratom occasionally for 9 months and trusts it.
"I believe that opioids are really bad for you and this is not. It doesn't harm you like opioids," said Sosville.
Sosville said he disagrees with the FDA's findings that kratom actually contains the same chemicals found in opioids.
Billed as an alternative to opioids, Summerlin Vitamins owner sells them and has taken them. He said he believes the FDA is trying to protect big pharmaceutical companies.
"Pharmaceutical companies see kratom as one of their biggest competition because you can't really go and patent a botanical," said Lee Summerlin.
The FDA said Kratom was involved in 44 deaths since 2011. But the American Kratom Association said many of those death claims are questionable. Kratom is banned in five states, like New York.
"Mixing Kratom with alcohol is like a terrible prescription. It's a prescription for disaster," said Albany, New York Assemblyman John McDonald.
Thursday, with the FDA hinting about banning Kratom in Georgia, sales were brisk at Summerlin Vitamins.
"We've already had customers telling us today that came in buying more than they normally do," said Summerlin.
Sosville said despite what he heard from federal officials, he still believes Kratom is a safer pain remedy than the alternatives.
"It's better than prescription medicine," he added.
Kratom is still legal under federal law, but shipments from international mail facilities are being seized by FDA inspectors.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is considering if kratom will be identified as a scheduled drug.