Category: Univ. of Rochester

Laced cocaine causing skin necrosis and marrow suppression

Update, June 22, 2011

Since our first report one year ago about the toxic effects of cocaine laced with levamisole, the NEJM published a case study of their own. A 54 year old woman was doing cocaine and lost her face and ears.

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June 20, 2010

An interesting letter in Annals of Internal Medicine by Mark Bradford et al describes two case reports of skin necrosis due to use of recreational cocaine laced with levamisole. An estimated 70% of the U.S. supply of cocaine is now laced with this drug. It is not clear why this additive is being used. Some speculate that it adds to the dopaminergic euphoric “high”.

Levamisole is banned for human use in the U.S. but is still used as a veterinary anti-worming medication. It was also formerly used as a chemotherapy agent to treat colon cancer, melanoma, and other cancers.

Several deaths of celebrities caused by cocaine overdoses, among other drugs, have been linked to levamisole. ABC News’ Ted Koppel recently lost a son to an overdose of cocaine laced with levamisole. CM.TV interviewed Dr. Bradford on this matter.

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