Illicit Drugs Bought Off Internet May Be Poisons, Experts Warn

Case report says victims thought they'd ordered amphetamine, but got drug that turned their skin blue

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THURSDAY, Feb. 9, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- A case study of two men who were poisoned and turned blue after ingesting what they thought was a recreational drug that they had bought on the Internet highlights the dangers of such purchases, a new report claims.

The case study appears in the Feb. 10 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which is published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The term "research chemicals" is a phrase used to illegally sell stimulants on the Internet, to avoid regulations that ban their use, the report authors said.

The authors described the case of two Oregon men who believed they had bought the designer amphetamine derivative 2C-E online. But the product they actually received was aniline, a highly toxic industrial chemical.

Even though these research chemicals all carry a warning label that they are "not for human consumption," the two men ingested the chemical. They quickly suffered a severe reaction as their hemoglobin was converted to methemoglobin, a molecule that prevents red blood cells from carrying oxygen.

The men's skin turned blue due to the lack of oxygen in their blood and one of them lost consciousness, said report author Dr. Shana Kusin and colleagues from the Oregon Poison Center.

The men were saved after poison center and health department officials rapidly identified the chemical and the proper treatment.

The incident illustrates the potentially life-threatening risks of buying so-called "research chemicals" over the Internet, the report authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about drug abuse and addiction.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Feb. 9, 2012

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