Report: Tainted Cocaine In LA, NY Linked To Flesh-Eating Disease

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An outbreak of skin reactions on patients in Los Angeles is likely due to an influx of adulterated cocaine being cut with as much as 70 percent of veterinary medication, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that six patients developed “purple-colored patches of necrotic skin on their ears, noses, cheeks and other parts of their body” because of use of the adulterated cocaine, according to Capt. Mike Parker, who heads the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau newsroom.

In some instances, the report said, users suffered permanent scarring after they had smoked or snorted the tainted drug.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that up to 70 percent of cocaine in the U.S. is contaminated with the drug levamisole, which is cheap, widely available and commonly used for deworming livestock.

Levamisole was previously considered safe for medical use in the U.S., but was discontinued in 2000 after developing side effects similar to those found in the cocaine users.

“We have had several more cases since we wrote this report,” said Dr. Noah Craft, principal researcher and author of the report in the Journal. “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.”

The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology report, which was also published in the newspaper Science Daily, cited information from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at County-Harbor-UCLA Medical

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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