Cocaine Cut With Animal De-Wormer Sickens Users
LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Doctors are warning cocaine users about a potentially serious side-effect associated with cocaine distributed in the Los Angeles and New York areas.
Doctors at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) say drug dealers are cutting cocaine with levamisole, used for deworming livestock.
The warning follows reports of at least a dozen patients developing serious skin reactions after smoking or snorting cocaine believed to be contaminated with the veterinary drug.
The report, published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, said six patients developed purple-colored patches of necrotic skin on their ears, nose, cheeks and other parts of their body and, in some instances, suffered permanent scarring after they had used cocaine.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, up to 70% of cocaine in the U.S. is contaminated with levamisole, which is cheap and widely available.
“We believe these cases of skin reactions and illnesses linked to contaminated cocaine are just the tip of the iceberg in a looming public health problem posed by levamisole,” said study author Noah Craft, MD, PhD, Los Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
“We have had several more cases since we wrote this report,” he said.
“In one of the more interesting ones, the patient used cocaine again and developed the same skin reaction again. He then switched drug dealers and the problem cleared up.”