National Report -- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Admininstration (DEA) reports the veterinary dewormer levamisole is showing up in seized street cocaine.
-- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Admininstration (DEA) reports the veterinary dewormer levamisole is showing up in seized street cocaine.
DEA reports that from July to September 2008, roughly one-third of the cocaine it seized from the streets contained varying amounts of dewormer.
It's believed that the drug is being added in South America, before the cocaine is imported to the United States, but it’s unclear why the “relatively expensive compound” is being used, according to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Levamisole has been attributed to increased dopamine levels in animal studies, the article reports.
Most commercial preparations of levamisole are used as dewormers for cattle, swine and sheep. The drug has been used for treating roundworm infestations in freshwater tropical fish. For a time, it was marketed for humans as Ergamisol and used to treat colon cancer. However, it was withdrawn from U.S. markets in 2000.
Cocaine cut with levamisole can cause febrile agranulocytosis, which can show up as unexplained fever and agranulocytosis in patients.
DEA issued public warnings and documented at least 100 illnesses and three deaths in the United States and Canada from the illegal use of this drug.