Three new suspected cases of the flesh-eating drug krokodil have been reported in Ontario, Canada.
According to independent Canadian television station CHCH, two men were hospitalized in St. Catharines in the past two weeks with gangrenous bodily sores associated with krokodil use, and the Niagara Regional Police are investigating another possible case in Niagara Falls.
The municipalities are located just a few miles from Canada’s border with the U.S., near Buffalo, N.Y.
“The one gentleman described it he felt like there was a burning coming from the inside out. And it left holes all over his arms,” outreach worker Rhonda Thompson told CHCH. “Ever since OxyContin went off the market, it’s turned into the wild west out there.”
Krokodil is made from cooking crushed codeine pills with household chemicals such as gasoline or paint thinner. It causes green, scaly sores after injection as the impurities in the street drug destroy blood vessels, causing flesh to rot off the bone.
Police in the Niagara region say they haven’t seen the drug being produced or sold yet. Skeptics of the drug have pointed out that the sores on users’ bodies could come from using dirty needles when injecting IV drugs.
“We see IV drug users with horrible infections on a daily basis,” Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesman Mark Woodward told The Huffington Post in October. “Infections from bacteria and dirty needles — that doesn’t mean it’s [krokodil].”
At least two suspected cases of the drug were reported in 2012, but awareness of krokodil in the United States became widespread after it was reported by Banner Good Samaritan Poison Control Center in Arizona in September.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has not yet confirmed the presence of krokodil in the United States.
“To date, none of our forensic labs have analyzed an exhibit that contain desomorphine [krokodil],” DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told The Daily Beast earlier this month. “We have nothing to indicate that it’s out there.”