Krokodil: Russian Flesh-Eating Drug Arrives to America

Godzilla represented people’s fear of nuclear war fallout. Today, a very different monstrous lizard could be setting the stage for an invasion of the United States. This is metaphorically speaking of course, though just as destructive in a very real way. We’re talking about the drug Krokodil, widespread in Russia, but virtually unknown in America. Until now, that is. This drug gets its name from the fact that the area of the skin where it is injected turns green and scaly before rotting away, as the blood vessels rupture and the surrounding tissue dies. The first two reported cases in the U.S. have both taken place in Arizona.
Are we making too much of a fuzz about it? After all, two isolated cases an epidemic do not make. However, two short years ago a Bellevue Hospital Center medical toxicologist affirmed that Krokodil would never even make it to the United States at all. And in Russia it took about 10 years to catch on after surfacing in Siberia, but by 2010 approximately one million people were shooting it. So far, Russia is the only country in the world where it has significantly spread, but it is a pretty big country. Not unlike the U.S.A.

New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Chief of dermatological and cosmetic surgery Dr. Ellen Marmur theorizes that the drug’s flesh-eating effect is actually skin popping. Skin popping occurs when junkies inject drugs directly into the skin because of damaged veins. Dead skin can lead to infection and amputation. The damage done by this deadly drug can hardly be treated even with state of the art medical supplies.  Why would addicts run such a risk just for a high that’s comparable to that of heroin? It is cheaper, first of all. The deadly cocktail contains codeine (controlled substance in the U.S., OTC in Russia), gasoline, paint thinner, oil, iodine, hydrochloric acid, red phosphorus and alcohol, though the ingredient list may vary.
Then there is the fact that Krokodil users are in a very advanced stage of addiction, one where rational thinking is all but non-existent. Not much is known of the condition in which the Arizona cases are at the moment, but Dr. Frank LoVecchio, co-medical director at the Banner Good Samaritan Poison and Drug Information Center in that state is very concerned. Dr. LoVecchio did add that he believes both cases to be related to one another, and that the effects of this drug are so pernicious that this is definitely a cause for alarm as well as a wakeup call.