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Medicine United States News

First Cases of Flesh-Eating Drug Emerge In the United States 618 618

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Having spent the last decade wreaking havoc in Russia, a flesh-eating drug called Krokodil has arrived in Arizona, reports Eliza Gray at Time Magazine. The Banner Poison Control Center has reported the first two users of the drug which makes user's skin scaly and green before it rots away [Warning: Graphic Images]. Made of codeine, a painkiller often used in cough syrup, and a mix of other materials including gasoline, paint thinner, and alcohol, Krokodil become popular in Russia because it costs 20 times less than heroin and can be made easily at home. Also known as Desomorphine, Krokodil has sedative and analgesic effects, and is around 8-10 times more potent than morphine. When the drug is injected, it rots the skin by rupturing blood vessels, causing the tissue to die. As a result, the skin hardens and rots, sometimes even falling off to expose the bone. 'These people are the ultimate in self-destructive drug addiction,' says Dr. Ellen Marmur. 'Once you are an addict at this level, any rational thinking doesn't apply.' The average life span of a Krokodil user is two to three years, according to a 2011 TIME investigation of the drug's prevalence in Russia."
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First Cases of Flesh-Eating Drug Emerge In the United States

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  • Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:11PM (#44980175)

    Seems to be a somewhat self-limiting problem. Users will die off fairly rapidly.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:15PM (#44980199) Homepage

    Ahh, the soft empathic voice of Slashdot.....

    TLDR; this is an incredible dumbass drug. They take codeine, which apparently is easier to get than heroin Russia, run it through some Mad Men style kitchen chemistry, don't really bother filtering it, don't have a clue about what they made then... wait for it... inject it. Bypassing every single organismal defense mechanism save for the few remaining T-cells that the user's bone marrow has scrounged up.

    Violence will ensue....

  • Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blue trane (110704) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:17PM (#44980213) Homepage Journal

    Legalize heroin.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:21PM (#44980241)

    If we treated addiction like the disease it is instead of moralizing it as a crime, we could help these people become productive members of society again instead of driving them to slow suicide. If safe drugs were available in free clinics and addicts received treatment, nobody would choose krokodil, nobody would be robbed for drug money, gangs would have one less source of funding, and these victims would be able to overcome their disease.

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:31PM (#44980295)
    But it's not. Drug users want something cheap and accessible. The market will always be there, even if only a few partake. If heroine were legal, nobody would die. But so long as we think they deserve it, it's ok to enforce policies that kill millions.
  • Slow news day? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:32PM (#44980311)

    The countries where this is actually problem, codeine is available OTC. This isn't the case here in the US. It's probably easier for people here to get their hands on heroin.

  • Re:Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:33PM (#44980319)

    That's a solution like legalizing stabbing is a solution to gun violence.

    By all means, legalize non-addictive drugs (e.g. marijuana, MDMA, LSD), but heroin is something else entirely. People shouldn't have their lives destroyed just because some skilled salesman convinced them to try it. It's not good for the user, and it's not good for society. It's only good for the dealer. The last thing this country needs is the marketing arm of Philip Morris or InBev pushing an even worse drug.

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:44PM (#44980389)

    Pure c1ommunism has no more answers that pure capitalism.

    The ideal is somewhere between. Where capitalism reigns for all luxury goods and services, but the basic necessities are made available by the state, either directly as the case for utilities and healthcare should be, or indirectly with a non means tested basic income system that provides enough income to every household for a meager subsistence.

  • Re:Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:45PM (#44980405) Homepage

    So why do we screw up their lives after a skilled salesman convinces them to try it by throwing them in jail? Isn't that bad for all the reasons you mentioned?

    I don't think we want active sales and marketing for heroine, but jailing addicts and driving them to dangerously impure and inconsistent street drugs seems like a bad idea. Especially if it eventually drives them to krokodil.

    Perhaps the clean stuff should be legally sold at the pharmacy but with no advertising at all and the pharmacist must giv you a pamphlet on drug treatment and tell you heroine is a bad idea when he hands it over.

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:50PM (#44980433)

    If heroine were legal, nobody would die.

    Like nobody dies from alchohol abuse?

    Maybe fewer people would die. But it's obviously not "nobody."

  • Re:Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:51PM (#44980443)

    doesn't have a good control framework like Cigarettes/alcohol which are legal and profitable for the government, especially here (Canada) with the "SIN TAXES".

    In the places where it has been decriminalized, the problems associated with the use of drugs like heroin were not just significantly but drastically reduced.

    That doesn't prove cause and effect but it has been consistent enough to suggest that inductive logic is appropriate here.

  • by bluescrn (2120492) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @02:57PM (#44980473)
    Make it hard to get hold of pure, *relatively* safe drugs... and people end up doing shit like this...
  • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:04PM (#44980525)

    Anyone who uses something so destructive to his own body has a sick and twisted soul. But the good response to a twisted soul is not to say they deserve what is done to their body, anymore than the good response to a sick body is to say that it deserves to be separated from its soul. The good response is to seek the healing of both.

    I do not believe in the drug war, but neither do I agree with those who would scoff, shrug, and say that it doesn't matter. Some of the comments in this vein are lacking in compassion and in humanity. I cannot see a great distinction in kind, though perhaps their is some difference in degree, between the mind of the inhumane person who would be rid of those who would harm themselves and the mind of the diseased man who would take drugs to rid him of himself. Both are antithetical to life.

    I do not believe in the drug war because the fighting metaphor is taken too literally. A drug war ought to be fought as we fight diseases, with treatment and medicine meant to heal, rather than as we fight foreign enemies, with guns and internment.

    I do not believe in the drug war because there are people willing to take a drug like this, a drug whose very name indicates its self-destructive potential, and therefore I cannot believe that the nightmare of the prison system or the fear thereof would end such self-abuse. Whether people do such drugs out of desperation or vice, punishment can have little positive effect on those whose recreation looks nightmarish to a person of ordinary psychology. They need help and help directed at the root of the problem. And since this becomes a political question, I would add that I would sooner taxes be spent helping people awaken from old nightmares than wake up to new ones. I do not believe in the drug war, but I do believe that we should do what we can to heal diseases of the mind which accept the destruction of the body.

  • by GNious (953874) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:04PM (#44980527)

    You're missing something ...

    Krokodil is NOT for those wanting to get high/stoned/whatever for cheaps.

    It is a drug for when everything else is just not cutting it anymore.
    It is a drug for when nothing in life really matter, besides the next fix.
    It is a drug for when you've accepted that you're going to die from drugs.

    Krokodil is the thing users turn to when everything else has been tried, when all there is left is the pain and the high and when you're beyond the regular kind of drug-addict-gone-fucked-up.

    "Dumb" has nothing, what-so-ever, to do with it.

  • by plover (150551) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:09PM (#44980549) Homepage Journal

    I saw an independent Australian documentary on Krokodil in one of the southern Russian cities, like Novobirisk. The addicts (in theit teens or twenties) figured they had about a week to live, and cared about nothing, living in a garbage pile in an abandoned building. The film crew tried to observe a drug buy, but ended up being chased by someone who spotted them. It was a incredibly sad, terrifying film.

    For their part, Russian officials are claiming that the Taliban is shipping cheap drugs north across the steppes in an attempt to corrupt and destabilize their cities.

    I'm all for legalization of a lot of substances and ending the Violence Due To Illegalization, but this one is so over-the-top in terms of both addiction and toxicity that I don't know what a rational response could be.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:26PM (#44980655) Journal

    I'm all for legalization of a lot of substances and ending the Violence Due To Illegalization, but this one is so over-the-top in terms of both addiction and toxicity that I don't know what a rational response could be

    Even if drugs were legalized, this one would still be illegal, much like adding melamine to children's food is illegal. Legalizing drugs doesn't mean we have to legalize everything.

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by SensitiveMale (155605) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:35PM (#44980701)

    "If heroine were legal, nobody would die."

    Are you a moron?

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:39PM (#44980713) Journal

    Have fun sleeping tonight, murderer.

    I was with you right up until that sentence and your reasoning leading up to it. TBH, claiming that making a drug illegal is equivalent to murder is, in short, bullshit. There are numerous valid ideological reasons why drugs should not be banned by governmental edict, but that argument is not one of them.

    This is why: In all honestly, it is not murder when someone willfully engages in the practice, knowing full well there are potentially fatal hazards involved (given the plethora of education on the subject, it's not like you can credibly claim a general ignorance here.) Long story short, while addiction is a tragedy, the participants are not exactly unwilling victims, either. Statistically, they all voluntarily jammed that needle into their arms (or smoked it, ate it, snorted it, whatever).

    It's like claiming that making base jumping off of a building illegal is tantamount to murder, when the base jumpers are the ones willfully doing it themselves.

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:42PM (#44980717) Homepage Journal
    The problem with this drug isn't so much the drug as the incredibly low purity standards.
  • by Garridan (597129) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:47PM (#44980747)
    Obligatory: you don't know shit about the decision-making process of addicts [ted.com]. These aren't idiots fouling the gene pool. You're no smarter. Ignorant judgmental creeps like you should be culled from the gene pool -- we'd all be in a better if trivial levels of compassion were among "common sense".

    Treat addiction like the disease it is, and it goes away. Encouraging addicts to off themselves only puts money into the pockets of the crooked assholes who peddle these drugs, exacerbating the problem. This drains the resources of the host society, reduces the available talent pool for the arts and sciences, and guess who can't afford birth control: addicts.

    Self-righteous assholes like you are what got us to this place to begin with. May your ignorant worldview fuck off and die.
  • by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @03:47PM (#44980755) Homepage

    Desomorphine itself, while highly addictive, doesn't seem to be the cause of the horrific symptoms of "krocodil" use. Like many other street drugs, the worst of the negative effects are caused by the lack of regulation and dodgy manufacturing conditions.

    If pharmaceutical grade opiates were available to addicts, nobody would willingly inject this gasoline-laden crap into their body.

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:02PM (#44980871) Homepage

    ". Increasing the supply and decreasing the price of this is not the best way to stop that from happening."

    Ironically from your perspective at least, that is exactly the way to diminish the occurrence of said events. People die from overdose almost exclusively due to the fact that the doses are unpredictable. Legalizing it would also mean it was available in standardized potency. That is the difference that you have missed. You also haven't considered that prostitution and deaths involving gangs and other black market activity are also a major factor that play into the death toll, and those too would no longer be an issue. Finally, by legalizing it we can tax it and use the tax income to offer assistance for those who want to enter into rehab and stop using it, further diminishing the death toll.

    In other words, you couldn't possible be much less informed, or have gotten it more wrong.

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:04PM (#44980887) Homepage

    "I sure will. I'm fine killing off the lowlifes who's opinion of existence is so low that they feel the need to partake of illegal artificial stimulants in order to make it tolerable."

    They are usually taking it to deal with having to live on the same planet with people like you, actually.

  • Darwin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:11PM (#44980925) Homepage Journal

    Is hard at work.

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ruir (2709173) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @04:29PM (#44981021) Homepage
    Fairly easy, the difference between alcohol and marijuana is that anybody can grow the plant without having middle man or paying taxes, and that cant be allowed.
  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gd2shoe (747932) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @05:33PM (#44981467) Journal

    Remember, logical reason doesn't drive political discourse. We are so jaded to politics that you need to elicit strong emotion to have any hope of affecting the average voter. Thus, we devolve into mindless rhetoric in a vain attempt to manipulate people into caring, instead of thinking.

    (Caring makes political accomplishment worthwhile; thinking makes it possible. We're currently way overbalanced in the "caring" direction... and graft, but that's a different topic.)

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @05:44PM (#44981543) Homepage Journal

    "Insightful" is just some guy with mod points who happens to agree.

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @07:29PM (#44982147)

    Heroin overdose among experienced users with steady supplies are unheard of. Heroin is quite safe, actually.

    The letal dose of heroin is 5x an "effective dose". I suppose some people who know what they're doing can avoid an overdose, but the gap between an effective dose and a lethal dose is a lot closer for heroin than for - well - every other illegal drug on this list: http://www.americanscientist.org/libraries/documents/200645104835_307.pdf [americanscientist.org]

    That sounds indeed highly dangerous. But here is the kicker: The lethal dose for Paracetamol is only about 3x of that "effective dose". One of the reasons you can accidentally kill yourself with it if you do not follow the instructions carefully. Yet most people never have a problem.

    (No, I am not for legalizing the stuff. I am just pointing out your argument does not hold water.)

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hovelander (250785) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @08:12PM (#44982385)

    Before anyone goes on about who's seen worse shit as a member of the military, it is always going to be the case where someone has seen something more fucked up. Always going to be the case and always was, so it's a pointless debate to get into.

    My point there is that seeing the effects on that woman who's poisoned 65% of the meat from her bones, crying naked and living dead on the table? I would choose to unsee that. I would go to the clinic in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and pay to unsee that.

    Not something I say lightly. Don't even mind much for any opinions on that decision. I want to unsee the guy's dead white flesh plopping into a bucket after a nurse cuts open the plastic wrap the addict's used to have some semblance he still had a leg. (Spoiler Alert: He didn't)

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nbauman (624611) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @08:30PM (#44982457) Homepage Journal

    Have fun sleeping tonight, murderer.

    it is not murder when someone willfully engages in the practice, knowing full well there are potentially fatal hazards involved (given the plethora of education on the subject, it's not like you can credibly claim a general ignorance here.) Long story short, while addiction is a tragedy, the participants are not exactly unwilling victims, either.

    So if you go to a street corner where drug dealers hang out, somebody shoots you and takes your money, that wasn't murder because you knew full well there were potentially fatal hazards involved.

    So if you go to a bar looking for sex, a girl invites you home, kills you, and takes your wallet, she's not engaging in murder because you knew full well there were potentially fatal hazards involved.

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @08:42PM (#44982503)

    The libertarian in me says that nothing of this would happen if heroin was easier to get by those that need it. I highly doubt people really want to take that crap over heroin...

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday September 28, 2013 @10:10PM (#44982829)

    Needles are illegal?

    What kind of fucked up country makes sterile needles illegal?

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h4ck7h3p14n37 (926070) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @12:41AM (#44983407) Homepage

    Gee, you think? It appears that American society has collectively learned nothing from the Prohibition days.

    Rather than trying to understand why people use drugs or doing something to help people, society at large just likes to judge and label them "losers". For a supposedly "Christian" nation this is pretty f'ing pathetic.

    I live in Chicago and have seen what happens to people when they can't get access to treatment or when they decide to take a trip to the 'hood for their fix. Most of the addicts I have known have wanted to quit, but the help's not there for them in many cases. One of my ex-girlfriends died from an overdose a few years ago. Thankfully some of the other people I knew were able to get clean after many years of trying.

    We should be pursuing harm reduction strategies, but again, these are just "losers", so it's good if they die. Right?

  • Re:Gross, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by occasional_dabbler (1735162) on Sunday September 29, 2013 @01:36PM (#44986351)
    Ah, obviously you're American. In Germany we have alcoholic drinks that taste good

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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