Animal drug laces a third of cocaine

By Euphoric · Sep 1, 2009 · ·
  1. Euphoric
    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
    Associated Press

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  1. Scarface88
    I love that, it's in every article ever about drugs.. "Dopamine, the brains "feel good" transmitters".

    Chances are they tested 15 Kilos from the same batch, decided this was a third of the US's entire Cocaine supply, and typed up their article.
  2. drug-bot
    at swims methaone clinic (in worcester, massachussetes) they have a sign warning about this tainted cocaine, the sign says the veterinary medicine in it basically destroys a persons white blood cells.

    swim had no iea 30% of dea seizure contain this dangerous substance he though it was a local cut (swim lives in massachussettes). this news could have a devastating effect on users health and on the cocaine market (not too many people will wanna buy coke that a friend of theres had to go to the hospital for or worse yet die as a result from. i hate with every ounce of my body these scumbag dealers who cut there shit with whatevers around.

    this might not be a popular opinion on this site but swim would recommend stopping snorting, shooting, and smoking coke until this dangerous cut goes away; 30% of all cocaine seizures are contaminaed w/ this, thats approx. 1/3rd of all cocaine, thats not an accseptable risk at least for this swim.

    peace & be safe.
  3. chillinwill
    Medicine-Laced Cocaine Kills 3, Sickens More Than 100 in U.S.

    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 U.S. and Canada and sickened more than 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 reviewed by The Associated Press indicate that 30 percent of all U.S. cocaine seizures are tainted with the drug. And health officials told the AP that most physicians know virtually nothing about its risks.

    "I would think it would be fair to say the vast majority of doctors in the United States have no idea this is going on," said Eric Lavonas, assistant director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, where as much as half of the cocaine is believed to contain levamisole. "You can't diagnose a disease you've never heard of."

    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.

    Economic pressures may play a role. Decreased supply in the U.S. has raised cocaine prices and lowered street-level purity. Cocaine traffickers may believe levamisole adds an extra boost to an otherwise weakened product.

    Levamisole started showing up frequently in cocaine from Colombia in January 2008. By late last year, the DEA concluded that the spiked cocaine was in wide circulation.

    At the same time, hospitals around the country began noticing more cocaine users coming in with agranulocytosis, an illness that suppresses white blood cells necessary to fight off infections.

    In Spokane, Wash., a woman in her mid-40s who tested positive for cocaine turned up at a hospital suffering from rashes and other maladies. She eventually died, and the doctor who investigated suspected she had used cocaine laced with levamisole. Doctors suspect levamisole in at least three other illnesses in the Spokane area.

    "It's hard to know where this contamination (is), in what part of the country it's located, because there's really no systematic testing for it," said Dr. Joel McCullough, health officer for the Spokane area.

    "I don't think it's on the radar of a lot of people, so if there are some other symptoms, I don't know if many clinicians would think to consider that."

    Other suspected levamisole deaths occurred in New Mexico and in Alberta, Canada.

    Many other people have become gravely ill, including about a dozen patients in Denver and 10 more in Seattle. At least one patient in each city required intensive care or extensive surgery.

    In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers suggested that the medication might increase dopamine in the brain, as it has in previous animal experiments.

    Levamisole "elevates opiate levels in various brain regions, like codeine and morphine," said Don LeGatt, a clinical toxicologist at the University of Alberta who has studied levamisole in cocaine. "Once you get those elevated, people tend to feel fairly comfortable and not too bad."

    The tainted cocaine has received only limited attention in the U.S., though federal authorities are monitoring its use, said Paul Knierim, a DEA spokesman in Washington.

    "I think the message is the same: Don't use cocaine, it's a dangerous drug," Knierim said.

    Doctors and hospitals remain largely unaware of the cocaine additive. A spokesman for the New Mexico health department said his office plans to write a piece for a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention newsletter in September.

    LeGatt said doctors should consider levamisole exposure in cases where otherwise healthy adults or newborn babies come down with infections because of low white blood cell counts. But the levamisole only appears in urine for a few days after exposure, meaning tests should be done as soon as possible.

    "When they ask their patients, they're probably going to deny that they use cocaine," he said. "But I think it's important for physicians to persevere to try and elucidate whether or not it is the cause."

    In Denver, after word spread about levamisole in cocaine, one man who fell ill asked a doctor if the "animal drug" could have been making him sick. Health officials including Lavonas say the public needs to be warned about the dangers.

    "It's not like you can put it on the bottle," he said.

    Associated Press
    September 1, 2009
    Fox News,2933,545127,00.html
  4. Jatelka
    For those who are interested, I have uploaded a letter to the editor, that describes 5 cases of agranulocytosis associated with cocaine contaminated with levamisole (case series from Alberta, Canada).

    It is here...

    There is also this:
    Unusual adulterants in cocaine seized on Italian clandestine market
    Fucci N.
    Forensic Sci Int. 2007 Oct 25;172(2-3):e1

    (I've requested the full paper in the "medline" thread, and I'm sure a lovely DFer will have it up for our perusal soon)

    In terms of the "Dopamine, feel good" angle, all I could find were 2 references to the effects of this drug on cardiac responses to sympathomimetic drugs, and to adrenergic neurotransmission in cutaneous veins of dogs!
  5. Jatelka
  6. Alfa
    Levamisole has turned up in cocaine since 2006. Over the course 2008 the Dutch government sent 700 samples to their lab, for analysis. Its a service of the Dutch government that allows people to test their cocaine for a symbolic fee. Average cocaine content was 55%. In 2008 the number of samples with levamisole had tripled, since the year before to 38% of all tested samples. That is the same percentage as phenacetine,which previously was the most used cutting agent.

    I dont think the use of levamisole as a cutting agent is an exception. I think its a wordwide phenomenon. It surely is not confined to a batch.
  7. saemc
    Yea,this shit is no joke!!..SWIM did abt a half a gram of some really badly cut blow on this past Sat night..SWIM wakes up next day not feeling so good,ok..Next day SWIM wakes up on Monday and throat is sore as hell and reads this article online,SWIM never gets sick!!!..SWIM knows what it is,today is Tues and SWIM is even worse,throat is sore as hell with a headache...FUCK THIS!!..SWIM says fuck blow for tha time,that shits not worth it and there is no doubt what it is,weakened immune system let something in and oh yea,forgot the worst of it that was noticed yesterday.Chigger bites SWIM had previously noticed on leg have become infected with what looks like an early Staph infection!!.WTF!!.It could be just some freak occurrence to come down with these infections of sorts?.but highly doubt it,SWIM knows his/her body and this isn't normal!!..
  8. anonuser30500
    Nasty stuff indeed and hope Swimmers who use a lot of coke might take this as a window of opportunity. After all, 33% or so of all the coke from now till next year is going to be contaminated with this nasty chemical.
  9. Jatelka
  10. nomud
    Hmm,Swim suggests a field test kit for levamisole.Duh!Easier said than done though.Tell dealer you want to test sample prior to buy out of same bag.Swim avoids street drugs.Once in Amsterdam, wanker unsolicited tried push'n "black coke" on swim.Swim laughed,they became agitated at swim.Swim told them swim came from south america,didn't goto Nederlands to buy "coke".Things turned nasty.Swim is not aware of sources adding levamisole.As a consumer sways have power to say F U to seller.For them to get stuck w/ shit they can't sell is worse than sway going w/o till blue skys return.Sellers need sway more than sways need them [hopefully].Theres possibility of seperating the adulterate out.Not practical for small amounts.
  11. Terrapinzflyer
    Agency Warns Against Adulterated Cocaine

    Cocaine laced with an antiparasite veterinary medication caused a number of cases of agranulocytosis, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) warned today.

    Cocaine adulterated with the antihelminthic levamisole can cause a sharp reduction in white blood cells, causing a life-threatening risk from even minor infections.

    The Drug Enforcement Agency says it has seen a steady increase in the amount of the medication found in cocaine since 2002.

    SAMHSA said users of cocaine powder or crack cocaine should be aware of symptoms indicating that they may have ingested the animal drug. They include:

    High fever
    Swollen glands
    Painful sores on the mouth or anus
    Lingering infections, including sore throat, mouth sores, skin infections, abscesses, thrush, or pneumonia
    The agency said the antihelminthic was in over 70% of the narcotic analyzed in July. Another recent analysis in Seattle, WA found individuals who tested positive for cocaine also tested positive for the parasite medication nearly 80% of the time.

    Several government drug and health agencies are collecting information on cocaine-associated agranulocytosis cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will publish a report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on the issue.

    Levamisole was originally approved as a human autoimmune disease and colorectal cancer treatment marketed under the name Ergamisol.

    The drug was withdrawn as a treatment for humans in 2000 but is still used as a dewormer for cattle, pigs, sheep, and fish.

    By Cole Petrochko, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
    Published: September 22, 2009
  12. alaskazagnut
    Re: Cocaine Laced with Deworming Drug

    Would that cure my friends pinworm, tapeworm and ringworm all in one line?
  13. chillinwill
  14. chillinwill
    Most cocaine diluted with unsafe livestock drug

    Most cocaine coming into the United States has been diluted with a veterinary drug that is used to deworm horses and other animals but can cause severe illness and death in humans, public health experts say.

    So far, eight cases of illness caused by the drug levamisole have been identified in San Francisco, one of a handful of cities in the country where pockets of sickness caused by the drug have been found.

    All of the cases in San Francisco involved women who used either crack or powder cocaine. At San Francisco General Hospital, where the first cases of the illness were diagnosed, 90 percent of 200 patients who recently tested positive for cocaine also tested positive for levamisole. Most of them did not become ill.

    Levamisole can significantly reduce the number of white blood cells in the body, a condition called agranulocytosis. Symptoms include fever, swollen glands, painful sores in the mouth and anus, and an infection that won't go away. In San Francisco, patients with levamisole poisoning also are getting serious skin conditions that make their skin look black.

    Doctors and lab specialists at S.F. General are leading state and national efforts to diagnose and treat patients.

    "The big question we have right now is, if 90 percent of cocaine users in San Francisco are positive for levamisole and are being exposed to this compound, then why aren't 90 percent of them in the emergency room with these side effects?" said Kara Lynch, associate chief of the chemistry and toxicology lab at S.F. General.

    Cocaine often is diluted with other drugs or chemicals both to increase its weight - dealers can stretch out the amount of powder they sell - and to add to or reduce its potency. Public health experts don't know exactly why levamisole has been added to cocaine, but one theory is that the drug has been shown in animal studies to augment the effects of cocaine.

    U.S. public health officials first warned of the risk of illness from levamisole in cocaine in September. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month released a report noting that 69 percent of cocaine recently seized in the United States had been tainted with levamisole, and illness from exposure to the drug has been found in at least four states.

    So far the illness seems to be more common in women than in men, and most of those affected have been in their 40s and smoked the cocaine in crack form. The eight people in San Francisco who were sickened by levamisole survived, but at least one person died in New Mexico, according to the CDC.

    "We need people to know that you're not getting pure cocaine anymore. You're exposing yourself to the effects of an anti-parasite drug instead of cocaine," said Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of substance abuse treatment with the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "You're not getting high off of cocaine, you're getting sick off of levamisole."

    Because many of the symptoms of the illness are the same as the flu, Clark said health care providers need to be aware that more testing may be necessary to make sure cocaine users aren't sick with something more serious than influenza.

    Dr. Jonathan Graf, an assistant professor in rheumatology at S.F. General who works with the Rosalind Russell Arthritis Research Center at UCSF, said doctors are mystified as to why San Francisco patients are getting the condition that blackens their skin and makes it appear to be "sloughing" off, while patients in other areas are not.

    It may be that the illness is still being identified, and as more doctors and public health officials become aware of the problem, more cases - and more symptoms - will be discovered, he said.

    "I have a feeling this is out there a lot more than we're giving it credit for," Graf said. "There are probably many cases of this going on around the Bay Area and elsewhere. There are probably a lot of people not coming in to emergency rooms or doctors."

    The illness was discovered at S.F. General when dermatologists saw two patients with the serious skin condition. They suspected the skin problems were related to an autoimmune disorder and called in Graf. At the same time, doctors at UCSF had discovered similar symptoms in another couple of patients, and reports were starting to come in from other states about the unusual illness.

    When doctors realized that all of those patients at the two hospitals were cocaine users, Lynch offered to test other cocaine-positive patients for levamisole and found in October that about 180 out of 200 of them also had levamisole in their system.

    The question then became why the levamisole was affecting some patients, but not others. One theory of Graf's is that the levamisole may be triggering an autoimmune reaction in patients who are already susceptible to autoimmune disorders.

    "Maybe these patients are predisposed to getting an autoimmune disease, but there's nothing that set them off before," Graf said. "Maybe the levamisole increases to a certain level and suddenly you start seeing cases."

    Erin Allday
    December 29, 2009
    San Francisco Chronicle
  15. Terrapinzflyer
    A Common Cut in Cocaine May Prove Deadly

    It was a medical mystery. In the summer of 2008, a man and woman, both in their 20s and both cocaine users, were separately admitted to a Canadian hospital with unremitting fevers, flulike symptoms and dangerously low white-blood-cell counts. Their symptoms were consistent with a life-threatening immune-system disorder called agranulocytosis, which kills 7% to 10% of patients and is rare except in chemotherapy patients and those taking certain antipsychotic medications.

    Neither of the Canadian patients fit that bill, but they did have one thing in common: illegal drug use, says Dr. Nancy Zhu, who treated the patients during her hematology fellowship at the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton. "We were theorizing that maybe it was something in the cocaine," she says.

    The medical literature didn't contain any studies linking agranulocytosis with cocaine. However, in April of that same year, a New Mexico lab had identified a small number of unexplained cases of the disorder, also in people who had snorted, injected or smoked cocaine. Later, in 2009, a few cocaine addicts in San Francisco — crack smokers, mostly — began displaying even stranger symptoms, like dead, darkened skin. "It looked like people were getting burns all over their body," says Dr. Jonathan Graf, a rheumatologist at the University of California, San Francisco. "[Their skin was] black, as if you had taken a cigarette butt to it. In some people, it was all over, on their legs and bellies."

    By that time, back in Canada, a toxicologist at Alberta Hospital had noticed an unusual chemical in the urine of the two cocaine-using patients: levamisole. Zhu contacted him, and they put the puzzle together. Further research revealed that levamisole, a drug that was once used to treat colon cancer but is now reserved for veterinary use as a medication to get rid of worms, can cause agranulocytosis in humans. The "burns" seen on Californian patients, who also were suffering from agranulocytosis, were the result of skin infections related to patients' compromised immunity. There have now been several dozen cases of cocaine-related agranulocytosis reported in North America — and one known death. "For some reason, this drug called levamisole keeps popping up," Zhu says.

    Where is it coming from? According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, levamisole has become increasingly popular as a "cut," or diluting agent, in cocaine and possibly some heroin. It is now found in 70% of all cocaine seized in the U.S., up from 30% in 2008. Unlike most cuts — usually inert or relatively harmless substances like the B vitamin inositol, which are added by lower-level dealers looking to stretch supplies — levamisole appears to be added to cocaine from the outset, in the countries of origin. The substance has been found in various concentrations in cocaine analyzed in countries around the world, from Switzerland to Australia. And urine tests of cocaine users attending a drug clinic at San Francisco General Hospital in 2009 — one floor above Graf's office — found that 90% of samples were positive for levamisole; similar tests in Seattle revealed that 80% of cocaine users there had levamisole in their systems.

    "If it's showing up in all those different places, that's a prima facie indicator that it's happening at the highest levels of production," says Craig Reinarman, a sociologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has long studied cocaine. But since cocaine is illegal, there's no easy way to remove levamisole from the supply chain. Law enforcement could instead target large purchasers, possibly putting pressure on dealers to switch to other cuts.

    Levamisole is cheap, widely available and seems to have the right look, taste and melting point to go unnoticed by cocaine users, which may alone account for its popularity. "Ease of availability seems likely to be important," says Reinarman. "Let's remember that producer countries are widely agrarian." Levamisole is used on farms, and its cost per gram is minimal.

    An understanding of how levamisole affects the body, however, may better explain its explosive popularity. A 1998 paper found that levamisole relieved symptoms of heroin withdrawal in rats and also raised levels of various brain chemicals related to drug highs. "It may increase dopamine and by so doing may enhance cocaine effects," speculates Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

    Research conducted by Eldo Kuzhikandathil, assistant professor of pharmacology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, suggests that levamisole may indirectly increase the number of D1 dopamine receptors in the brain by affecting gene expression there. "Cocaine increases D1 expression," he says, "and this would probably accentuate that," which could enhance both highs and craving.

    Levamisole also affects acetylcholine receptors throughout the body, which can boost heart rate — and studies of cocaine users show that they associate jumps in heart rate with getting high, spurring good feelings even before the drug hits the brain. A cut that accelerates heart rate might make them think they're getting the real thing. In the brain, levamisole may affect the same acetylcholine receptors activated by nicotine, another addictive drug that raises dopamine levels — which may be another clue to levamisole's lure.

    But despite the wide use of levamisole, cases of agranulocytosis are relatively uncommon. According to government surveys, nearly 2 million Americans have used cocaine at least once in the past month. "Why aren't 90% of cocaine users [in San Francisco] getting sick?" wonders Graf, who says he sees about one case every few weeks, mostly in women. He suspects that men are less likely to be affected because they are less vulnerable to autoimmune disorders than women, but says the truth is that no one really knows why certain users become ill. Zhu and Graf urge users who are suffering from fever or unexplained infections to seek medical help immediately — the sooner agranulocytosis is treated, the greater the odds of survival.

    To both physicians, the biggest mystery may be the power of cocaine addiction itself. Some of Graf's patients waited months before seeking help, as patches of painful, blackened skin continued to grow — and some continued to use cocaine despite learning that it caused their immune problems and that they could require plastic surgery to avoid permanent disfigurement. Zhu has treated several patients with life-threatening infections, some needing breathing tubes and intensive care. "It's quite sad — every time they use [cocaine], it happens. They wind up in the hospital for several weeks and almost die. But as soon as they go home and back into that environment, the cycle begins again."

    Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010,8599,1955112,00.html
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