Welcome! We regret to inform you that the Injury Board National News Desk has been discontinued. Feel free to browse around and enjoy our previously published articles, or visit The Injury Blog Network for the latest in personal injury news.

Cocaine Tainted With Animal De-Wormer Sickens Dozens, Kills Three

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, August 31, 2009 6:01 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Cocaine, Illegal Drugs, DEA

Cocaine tainted with a de-wormer may be killing Americans and making hundreds sick.


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ cocaine powder/ author: U.S. Federal Government

May Affect One-Third of U.S. Cocaine

Federal drug enforcement agents are reporting that one-third of the cocaine seized in this country is tainted with a dangerous veterinary de-worming medicine that enhances the effects of cocaine, but may have killed three.

The medication is called levamisole, and it has sickened more than 100 in the U.S. and Canada. The drug is sometimes used in treating colorectal cancer.

It weakens the body’s immune system and can leave patients vulnerable to infections. Authorities believe the drug is added in Columbia before the cocaine is smuggled north.

The Associated Press reviewed Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) documents and found the numbers on tainted drugs among those seized.

Doctors who treat drug overdoses generally have no idea this is going on.

Eric Lavonas, assistant director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver, where as much as half of the cocaine is believed to contain levamisole, tells AP, "You can't diagnose a disease you've never heard of.”

AP reports the drug began showing up in street supplies from Columbia in January 2008, after which time the DEA found the tainted cocaine was in wide circulation. Around that time, more cocaine users were admitted to the hospital with a lowered white blood cell count, necessary to fight off infections.

Since street-level purity of cocaine has been lowered by economic pressures, AP reports cocaine traffickers may be adding the drug for an extra boost.

One death and three illnesses were reported among cocaine users in the Spokane, Washington. A dozen illnesses have been reported in Denver with patients requiring intensive care and surgery. Other deaths with a suspected link to levamisole were reported in New Mexico and Alberta, Canada.

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that the drug might increase dopamine in the brain, as it has done in animal experiments.

DEA spokesman Paul Knierim says the message remains the same: “Don’t use cocaine, it’s a dangerous drug.” #


Anonymous User
Posted by orlando
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 7:45 AM EST

why isnt this on the NEWS what"s the problem? i BELIVE that the GOV. is behind it we"ll just have 2 see.........................oz

Posted by Bone Lee Tadpole
Saturday, September 05, 2009 11:20 AM EST

This may be NEWS to you, but "Drugs are bad..." Ummm-kay...???

Anonymous User
Posted by tj
Friday, September 25, 2009 9:45 AM EST

I’m not sure I see the problem here. If it reduces the dregs of society, perhaps we can then put the focus on real problems such as Cancer, Aids, Child Starvation, etc., people that have real problems. I have no remorse for people that bring drugs and the after effects onto themselves! Life is about the choices you make.

Comments for this article are closed.

About the National News Desk

Our mission is to seek the complete truth and provide a full and fair account of the events and issues that surround personal safety, accident prevention, and injury recovery.  We are committed to serving the public with honesty and integrity in these efforts.

Hurt in an accident? Contact an Injury Board member

Subscribe to Blog Updates

Enter your email address if you would like to receive email notifications when comments are made on this post.

Email address


RSS Feed

Add the National News Desk to your favorite RSS reader

Add to Google Reader Add to myYahoo Add to myMSN Add to Bloglines Add to Newsgator Add to Netvibes Add to Pageflakes