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Know Before It Goes Up Your Nose: Tainted Cocaine on the L.A. Market

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If you've got a cocaine habit, doctors are warning users that there is some tainted stuff on the market in Los Angeles and New York. "Doctors at LA BioMed at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA say drug dealers are cutting cocaine with levamisole, used for deworming livestock," reports KTLA. The practice of using the drug to "cut" cocaine has been on the rise in recent years.

A recent run of patients suffering from "serious skin reactions" after snorting or smoking cocaine has led officials to determine the drug had been laced with the veterinary drug. Those skin condition reported by medical professionals included six patients who suffered "purple-colored patches of necrotic skin on their ears, nose, cheeks and other parts of their body and, in some instances, suffered permanent scarring after they had used cocaine."

The contamination is pretty widespread; the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said in a 2010 TIME magazine piece about the common coke "cut" that levamisole is found in up to 70% of the drug seized by federal authorities. "Levamisole is cheap, widely available and seems to have the right look, taste and melting point to go unnoticed by cocaine users, which may alone account for its popularity," noted TIME.

Following this recent reporting of skin symptoms, one doctor remarked that in one case, "the patient used cocaine again and developed the same skin reaction again. He then switched drug dealers and the problem cleared up."