In the News: Flesh-Eating Drug Krokodil Hits the US
Just two weeks ago we wrote about the terrifying drug Krokodil that was growing in popularity in Russia and other European cities. Now there is evidence that the drug has arrived on American soil. The Banner Poison Control center in Arizona has reported the first two users of the drug — which has been available in Russia for more than a decade — here in the U.S.
Krokodil attracted international attention 2010 after illicit manufacture of the drug started increasing in Russia. Pictures of junkies began circulating the web, showing the severe tissue damage and gangrene that can result from the use of the drug, sometimes requiring limb amputation. There is so much tissue damage associated with the use of this drug that addicts are estimated to have a life expectancy of 1-2 years.
Krokodil, or desomorphine, is a derivative of morphine that is 8 to 10 times more potent. It can be manufactured illicitly from codeine and other easily obtained products, like red phosphorus and gasoline. However, desomorphine manufactured this way is highly impure and contains toxic and corrosive byproducts.
It has become popular in Russia, because it is cheap–it can cost 20 times less than heroin-and can be made easily at home.
The drug got its nickname from the Russian world for crocodile, because users tend to develop scale-like, green skin. Other permanent effects of the drug include speech impediments and erratic movement. Rotting flesh, jerky movements, and speech troubles have prompted media outlets to tag krokodil the “zombie drug.”
A spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration told Mother Jones that the agency had not yet confirmed the reported cases in Arizona, but, she added, “This concerns us very much.”
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