Flesh-Eating Drug 'Krokodil': 2 Cases in Arizona Worry Experts

Thursday, 26 Sep 2013 01:16 PM

By Megan Anderle

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There have been two cases reported in Arizona of people using a drug street-named "krokodil" that can rot flesh, according to Banner’s Poison Control Center.

"We've had two cases this past week that have occurred in Arizona," Dr. Frank LoVecchio, the co-medical director at Banner's Poison Control Center, told local station CBS5. "As far as I know, these are the first cases in the United States that are reported. So we're extremely frightened.”

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The drug is reportedly popular in Russia. The drug is a mix of codeine and hydrocarbons,like paint thinner, gasoline, oil or alcohol. The mixture is filtered, boiled, and then injected into the vein, LoVecchio said.

"They extract [the drug] and even though they believe that most of the oil and gasoline is gone, there is still remnants of it. You can imagine just injecting a little bit of it into your veins can cause a lot of damage," he told CBS5.

The average life expectancy of a krokodil user is about three years, according to KSAZ.

When users inject the drug, it can rot the fresh from inside out or cause sores on a user’s skin. The sores, which can resemble alligator skin, is how the drug gets its name.

"When [drug users] do it repeatedly, the skin sloughs. It causes hardening of their skin. It will cause necrosis," explained LoVecchio.

LoVecchio told CBS5 that the main attraction to the drug is the cost. Krokodil, also known as desomorphine, is reportedly 20 times cheaper than heroin and gives users a similar high.

Banner Poison Control Center officials believe the two Arizona cases are linked, but did not provide further details on the patients’ conditions.

Time magazine reported that in 2010, somewhere between a few hundred thousand and a million people injected the drug. Officials fear the drug will catch on in the U.S.

"Where there is smoke there is fire, and we're afraid there are going to be more and more cases," LoVecchio said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has monitored the drug, which is since 2011.

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Related stories:

Flesh-Eating Fungus Tied to Five Deaths

Flesh-Eating Bacteria Survivor Gets Prosthetic Hands

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