Krokodil, the deadly skin-rotting drug that originated in Russia, may have hit the New York club scene.
Following reports over the past month of cases of krokodil abuse in both Arizona and Chicago, Illinois, the drug is now believed to have hit New York.
A source has claimed that the drug is being sold in at least two nightclubs in New York City’s hip Meatpacking District.
The Verge reports that Sal Ramirez, who witnessed the effects of krokodil while serving in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, saw a man being thrown out of Le Bain for selling the drug, and was approached by a deal at Westway, who reportedly tried to sell him krokodil and clean syringes in the bathroom.
Krokodil, whose medical name is desomorphine, has been called a 'moonshine drug' because addicts are often able to cook the narcotic at home.
Mixing the substance can leave traces of toxins in the final product which addicts then inject.
The drug is made of readily available ingredients such as codeine, iodine and toxins such as gasoline, industrial cleaning oil, lighter fluid and paint thinner. Users filter and boil ingredients together, then inject the drug. An opioid eight to 10 times stronger than morphine, krokodil is so-called because it leave addicts with scaly green skin near the injection site.
The high lasts only a couple of hours, but the drug is significantly cheaper than heroin.
Fears that the drug could head to the United States have been rife since 2011, when a Drug Enforcement Administration official said the agency was aware of its use overseas.
But even with a drug treatment physician publicly announcing medics have now treated four users within the U.S., the DEA has said it is not ready to recognize it as an immediate threat.
Agency spokeswoman Dawn Dearden told FoxNews.com: 'We, the DEA, are not seeing cases of it. Nothing’s been turned into any of our labs. As far as the DEA is concerned, we have not seen any cases.'
The announcement comes after a worrying wave of some victims injecting themselves with krokodil because they think it is heroin, doctors said.
The first instances of its use in the U.S. were recorded in Arizona last month. It is already widely used in Russia.
Three cases have now been reported in Chicago and doctors say two of the women did not even know they had been sold the drug.
The victims were all aged between 18 and 25 and come from middle-class backgrounds.
Pictures and videos of users in Russia show blackened fingertips, large open wounds, and even exposed bone where skin has fallen off. Prolonged or even short-term use can damage blood vessels, muscle, cartilage, and bone, and amputation is frequently the only way to save a patient’s life. Doctors have warned of the horrifying side effects of the homemade drug, which is said to give a more powerful high than heroin.
The flesh rotting that is specific to the drug occurs directly at the injection site, often leaving users with wounds to their feet or arms.