Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Adulterated cocaine causing serious skin reactions; With up to 70 percent contaminated, doctors warn of potential public health epidemic

Date:
June 21, 2011
Source:
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed)
Summary:
Doctors warn of a potential public health epidemic in a recent report on patients who developed serious skin reactions after smoking or snorting cocaine believed to be contaminated with a veterinary medication.

Doctors warn of a potential public health epidemic after treating patients with serious skin reactions after the patients had smoked or snorted cocaine believed to be contaminated with a veterinary medication.
Credit: Dr. Noah Craft

Doctors warned of a potential public health epidemic in a recent report on patients in Los Angeles and New York who developed serious skin reactions after smoking or snorting cocaine believed to be contaminated with a veterinary medication drug dealers are using to dilute, or "cut," up to 70% of the cocaine in the U.S.

Related Articles


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.

Doctors in San Francisco had previously reported two similar cases there. Others have also reported on users of contaminated cocaine who developed a related life-threatening immune-system disorder called agranulocytosis, which kills 7% to 10% of patients.

The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that up to 70% of cocaine in the U.S. is contaminated with the drug, levamisole, which is cheap, widely available and commonly used for deworming livestock. Levamisole had been prescribed for humans in the past but was discontinued after developing side effects similar to those found in the cocaine users.

"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 Noah Craft, MD, PhD, a Los Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) principal researcher and author of the report in the Journal. "We published this report to educate the public to the additional risks associated with cocaine use and to increase awareness among physicians who may see patients with these skin reactions that are a clue to the underlying cause of the disease. Because this reaction can commonly be mistaken as an autoimmune disease called vasculitis, it is important for physicians to know about this new disease entity."

Dr. Craft said he and other physicians were initially baffled by the severity of the skin damage. He is a member of a team of doctors who advise Logical Images, a company that developed a software program, called VisualDx, for diagnosing skin diseases and other conditions.

During one of their conference calls in May 2010, Dr. Craft said they began discussing the skin damage seen in emergency rooms in New York and Los Angeles and realized they were all seeing similar patterns and that the one common thread was the use of cocaine prior to the development of the skin damage. The cases were pooled and added into the professional database immediately so that other physicians across the US were then able to see this new diagnosis.

"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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Catherine Chung, Paul C. Tumeh, Ron Birnbaum, Belinda H. Tan, Linda Sharp, Erin McCoy, Mary Gail Mercurio, Noah Craft. Characteristic purpura of the ears, vasculitis, and neutropenia–a potential public health epidemic associated with levamisole-adulterated cocaine. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2010.08.024

Cite This Page:

Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed). "Adulterated cocaine causing serious skin reactions; With up to 70 percent contaminated, doctors warn of potential public health epidemic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110620094427.htm>.
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed). (2011, June 21). Adulterated cocaine causing serious skin reactions; With up to 70 percent contaminated, doctors warn of potential public health epidemic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110620094427.htm
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed). "Adulterated cocaine causing serious skin reactions; With up to 70 percent contaminated, doctors warn of potential public health epidemic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110620094427.htm (accessed February 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could a $34 Smartphone Device Improve HIV Diagnosis in Africa?

Could a $34 Smartphone Device Improve HIV Diagnosis in Africa?

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) A dongle that plugs into a Smartphone mimics a lab-based blood test for HIV and syphilis and can detect the diseases in 15 minutes, say researchers. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor Says Head Transplants Possible Within Two Years

Doctor Says Head Transplants Possible Within Two Years

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) An Italian doctor is saying he could stick someone&apos;s head onto someone else&apos;s body. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) reports. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Dentist Could Help Screen You For Diabetes

How Your Dentist Could Help Screen You For Diabetes

Newsy (Feb. 27, 2015) A new study from researchers at New York University suggests dentists could soon use blood samples taken from patients&apos; mouths to test for diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Tips to Makeover Your Health

The Best Tips to Makeover Your Health

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) If you&apos;re looking to boost your health this season, there are a few quick and easy steps to prompt you for success. Krystin Goodwin (@Krystingoodwin) has the best tips to give your health a makeover this spring! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins