PHOENIX, Ariz. (CBS Las Vegas) – The drug known on the streets of Russia as krokodil has now made its way to the United States, according to two reports filed with the Banner Poison Control Center in Phoenix.
The drug, whose more scientific name is desomorphine, is an opioid that comes with an alarming side effect – rotting the flesh of those who take it. CBS affiliate KPHO-5 is reporting that incidents reported to BPCC are the first in the country, though it is already widely popular in Russia.
It is said to contain ingredients such as gasoline and codeine, and is both prepared and injected in much the same way as heroin.
“When [drug users] do it repeatedly, the skin sloughs. It causes hardening of their skin. It will cause necrosis,” explained Dr. Frank LoVecchio, the co-medical director at the BPCC, to the station. “They extract [the drug] and even though they believe that most of the oil and gasoline is gone, there is still remnants of it.”
He added, “You can imagine just injecting a little bit of it into your veins can cause a lot of damage.”
That damage includes, according to experts, the rotting of flesh from the inside out, or the development of sores that give the skin a rough, reptilian quality that allegedly earned the drug its nickname.
LoVecchio expressed concern that these first cases are indicative of a larger population taking the drug.
He noted to KPHO-5, “Where there is smoke there is fire, and we’re afraid there are going to be more and more cases.”