Animal drug laces a third of cocaine
LITTLE ROCK, ARK.–Nearly a third of all cocaine seized in the United States is laced with a dangerous veterinary medicine – a livestock de-worming drug that might enhance cocaine's effects but has been blamed in at least three deaths and scores of serious illnesses.
The medication called levamisole has killed at least three people in the United States and Alberta and sickened over 100 others. It can be used in humans to treat colorectal cancer, but it severely weakens the body's immune system, leaving patients vulnerable to fatal infections.
Scientific studies suggest levamisole might give cocaine a more intense high, possibly by increasing levels of dopamine, the brain's "feel-good" neurotransmitters.
Drug Enforcement Administration documents indicate 30 per cent of all U.S. cocaine seizures are tainted with the drug. And health officials say most physicians know virtually nothing about its risks.
Authorities believe cocaine manufacturers are adding the levamisole in Colombia, before the cocaine is smuggled into the U.S. and Canada to be sold as white powder or crack.
Sep 01, 2009 04:30 AM