Flesh-Eating Drug Makes First US Appearance: Beginning of Epidemic?

Friday, 27 Sep 2013 01:03 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A flesh-eating drug from Russia known as Krokodil has arrived in the U.S. via two reported cases in Arizona.

The flesh-eating drug, whose medical name is desomorphine, is a cheap street version of heroin that combines a poisonous cocktail of codeine, gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, iodine, and red phosphorous.

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Having originated in Russia, where it is dubbed "the drug that eats junkies," Krokodil is an injected narcotic that is three times cheaper to produce than heroin and often kills the user within the first year of use, the New York Daily News reported.

The toxic substance's name, Krokodil, which is Russian for crocodile, stems from the gangrenous sores that form on the user's body wherever the point of injection is, resembling that of a crocodile's scales. In some cases, the drug causes a person's skin to separate from the bone, rotting the flesh from the inside out.

Earlier this week, two cases of Krokodil surfaced in Arizona, causing medical professionals to worry that we might be seeing the very beginning of what could be an epidemic of the highly addictive toxic substance in the U.S.

"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."

The rancid concoction is first filtered and boiled before being injected into the vein, LoVecchio explained to CBS5.

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

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

In addition to the horrific scars, some Russian users have also developed brain damage and speech impediments, according to Britain's Daily Mail.

Time magazine reported that in 2010, somewhere between a few hundred thousand and a million people injected the drug.

The drug is particularly prevalent among the Russia's youth in the nation's far east region and Siberia, the Daily Mail noted.

A reported 65 million doses of Krokodil was confiscated by Russia's Federal Drug Control Service in 2011 alone.

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