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Article on 'zombie' drug krokodil in St. Louis is republished

Article on 'zombie' drug krokodil in St. Louis is republished


An article outlining the case of a local man injecting the so-called "zombie" drug krokodil has been republished by the American Journal of Medicine, with mostly grammatical corrections.

"Krokodil, a designer drug from across the Atlantic, with serious consequences" by Dr. Dany Thekkemuriyil and Dr. Unnikrishnan Pillai of St. Mary's Health Center was originally published online by the journal in September but withdrawn two months later to give the authors time to make corrections, according to managing editor for what the managing editor Pamela Powers Hannley.

In the article, the doctors describe treating a 30-year-old man who injected the contaminated drug and developed gangrenous skin lesions on his legs and lost a diseased finger in 2012. The man told the doctors that he had injected krokodil for months because it was cheaper than heroin. 

Desomorphine, the drug’s official name, is made by cooking prescription painkillers with contaminants such as gasoline, alcohol, paint thinner or lighter fluid. In addition to gangrene and rotting flesh, the drug causes brain damage and disintegrates users’ teeth and jawbones.

The drug has reportedly been a public health threat in Russia for the last few years and gets its name from the Russian word for crocodile. A handful of reports have surfaced this fall of people using the drug in the U.S., including patients in Phoenix and Joliet, Ill. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration released an information sheet on the drug in October but has not made any seizures of the drug or confirmed any cases since two in 2004. Other large emergency rooms in the St. Louis area, including Barnes-Jewish, St. Louis University and Christian hospitals have not reported treating any krokodil users.

The Associated Press reported today that health authorities in Mexico treated a woman for flesh lesions caused by krokodil. The Jalisco state council on addictions said the 17-year-old with lesions in her groin area is from Houston, where she told authorities she used the drug. The woman sought medical care during a visit to Mexico, according to the AP.

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