Flesh Eating Cocaine Is Here: Ban Levamisole Before All Cocaine Users Die
The story is brought to us by ABC’s… Katie Moiss (pronounced Kate Moss).
News is that:
Cocaine cut with the veterinary drug levamisole could be the culprit in a flurry of flesh-eating disease in New York and Los Angeles.
Yep. This is a story that because cocaine is illegal, the drugs dealers seek to maximise profits from the risks they take selling the stuff by making it dirtier than a porn star’s enema.
The drug, used to deworm cattle, pigs and sheep, can rot the skin off noses, ears and cheeks. And over 80 percent of the country’s coke supply contains it.
The message is clear: up the price of livestock dewormer levamisole. (Buys shares now!) One other message is that research is scary and, er, not all that well researched:
“It’s probably quite a big problem, and we just don’t know yet how big a problem it really is,” said Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist with Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.
Yeah, probably. Quite a big problem. Maybe. Still, the expert sees fit to publish her research in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Craft describes six cocaine users recently plagued by the dark purple patches of dying flesh. And while they happened to hail from the country’s coastlines, the problem is national.
“It’s important for people to know it’s not just in New York and L.A. It’s in the cocaine supply of the entire U.S.,” Craft said.
“Kate Moss” then gives us a statistic:
Eighty-two percent of seized cocaine contains levamisole, according to an April 2011 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
In 2010, Time reported that levamisole “is now found in 70% of all cocaine seized in the U.S., up from 30% in 2008”.
Levamisole is mixed with cocaine because it looks and smells like cocaine. And:
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.
Time, then, to put levamisole on the list of banned drugs. Anything with a street clue must be banned!
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 [Dr. Jonathan Graf, a rheumatologist at the University of California, San Francisco], 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.
Back to Moiss’s reports, wherein learn:
“We don’t know who this is going to happen to,” said Dr. Lindy Fox, the University of California, San Francisco, dermatologist who first connected the gruesome lesions on cocaine users to levamisole. Similarly, some patients have more extreme reactions than others. Fox said she once saw a photo of a man whose entire body, face included, was black with dying flesh.
Once the drug is cleared from the body, the wounds do heal, leaving behind a shiny scar.
A shiny scar sounds not too bad. What other facts you got, Moiss?
Although some people might be more vulnerable to the effects of levamisole, the drug doesn’t discriminate based on race or socioeconomic status.
Yes it does. If you are rich you can afford to buy better grade cocaine. Still, hand the facts, lets get back to spreading that fear:
“It’s a little bit like having HIV,” said Craft, adding that without medical attention, the condition can be fatal. “About 10 percent of those patients will die from severe infections. They may be walking around like a time bomb.”
The kind of bomb that only kills and injures the stoned person carrying it – the person who can be cured and get a shiny scare? Or is it worse than that..?