Journal Article
Multicenter Study
Add like
Add dislike
Add to saved papers

A descriptive study of an outbreak of clenbuterol-containing heroin.

STUDY OBJECTIVE: Illicit drugs may be adulterated with substances other than the sought-after substance of abuse. Although the true incidence and clinical effects of this practice are unknown, geographically disparate outbreaks of clinically significant adulteration continue to occur. We report on a recent outbreak of clenbuterol-adulterated heroin occurring along the East Coast of the United States.

METHODS: After identification of index cases, 5 US poison centers collaborated with state and territorial health departments to alert the public of clenbuterol-tainted heroin. A case definition of clenbuterol-tainted heroin toxicity was promulgated, and emergency departments (EDs) were asked to contact poison centers when cases were identified.

RESULTS: We identified 34 probable or confirmed ED presentations in 5 states during a 6-month period. Thirteen of the 34 patients met the criteria for "confirmed" exposures. Clenbuterol was identified in the blood and or urine of 12 of these 13 patients. Clenbuterol concentrations ranged from 2.4 to 26 ng/mL in the blood and 9.4 to 12,526 ng/mL in the urine. Symptoms included nausea, chest pain, palpitations, dyspnea, and tremor. Physical findings included significant tachycardia, hypotension, and laboratory evidence of hyperglycemia, hypokalemia, and increased lactate levels. Six patients demonstrated biochemical evidence of myocardial injury. Ten patients received beta-adrenergic antagonists without adverse effect.

CONCLUSION: The adulteration of heroin by clenbuterol was associated with sympathomimetic effects, metabolic acidosis, and myocardial injury. The report also highlights how collaborative efforts among poison centers using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Epi-X system rapidly identified a disease outbreak.

Full text links

We have located links that may give you full text access.
Can't access the paper?
Try logging in through your university/institutional subscription. For a smoother one-click institutional access experience, please use our mobile app.

Related Resources

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

Mobile app image

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2024 by WebMD LLC.
This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.

By using this service, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.

Your Privacy Choices Toggle icon

You can now claim free CME credits for this literature searchClaim now

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app