Despite the fact that a Chicago-area doctor reported treating as many as three "krokodil" users this week, the Drug Enforcement Agency claims it is still skeptical that the flesh-eating drug has made its way to America from Russia.
The substance — made by cooking codeine with various toxic chemicals, like lighter fluid, gasoline, or paint thinner — is cheaper than heroin and three times more potent, and causes users to develop gangrenous, rough, scaly skin and abscesses all over their bodies. In serious cases, a person's muscles and bones become visible.
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"It is a horrific way to get sick," Dr. Abhin Singla, a drug-treatment physician at the Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Ill., told NBC Washington
. "The smell of rotten flesh permeates the room. Intensive treatment and skin grafts are required, but they often are not enough to save limbs or lives."
Singla said he treated three patients at the Joliet facility just this week.
Krokodil, the Russian word for crocodile, is thought to have originated overseas, and made its first appearance in the U.S. in Arizona at the end of September.
Bu despite its gruesome effects, what's probably even more horrifying is that the DEA doesn't see it as an imminent threat.
"We, the DEA, are not seeing cases of it," agency spokeswoman Dawn Dearden told FoxNews.com.
"Nothing's been turned into any of our labs. As far as the DEA is concerned, we have not seen any cases."
Fox News also reported that as many as 1 million people have used the drug in Russia.
"The Russian government has considered some steps to curb this epidemic, including banning websites that explain how to make the opiate, placing codeine back into the prescription only category and increasing enforcement with escalated confiscation," according to New York's Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.
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