From Designer Drugs to … Bath Salts?

The ever-enlightening Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports has a new paper on the latest recreational drug craze: bath salts. Yes, bath salts. As MMWR explains:

From November 2010 to January 2011, the Marquette County [Michigan] ED treated seven patients who arrived at the ED with hypertension, tachycardia, tremors, motor automatisms, mydriasis, delusions, and paranoia. Some patients were violent, placing increased demand on ED staff members. Responding to the cluster also placed additional demands on local law enforcement and foster care, because many patients had young children who needed care while their parents were incapacitated. The patients reported using “bath salts” purchased at a local store for about $20 a package and labeled “not intended for human consumption.”

Way to set a good example, Ma and Pa. Apparently these weren’t just any bath salts – only a few, um, provocatively-named brands:

Efforts by the local ED, law enforcement, and prosecuting attorney’s office led to the execution of an emergency public health order on February 4 by the Marquette County Health Department. The proprietor of the store was ordered to immediately remove from sale and turn over to government authorities any and all products known as White Rush, Cloud Nine, Ivory Wave, Ocean Snow, Charge Plus, White Lightning, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie, Red Dove, White Dove, and Sextasy. The Michigan Department of State Police laboratory tested the White Rush seized from the store and detected the presence of MDPV.

MDPV is 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone, which has apparently been a designer street drug since 2004. But how bad could a product called White Rush really be?

Of the 17 hospitalized persons, nine were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), five were admitted to a general floor, and three were admitted directly to a psychiatric unit. Four persons who were first hospitalized in the ICU or a general floor later were transferred to a psychiatric unit. Treatment generally included a benzodiazepine such as lorazepam to control signs of toxicity; low or moderate doses usually were sufficient. Antipsychotics were used as secondary agents when benzodiazepine sedation was ineffective. Of three patients who revisited the ED, one had rhabdomyolysis, chest pain, and dizziness but left against medical advice. Two months later, the patient was admitted to the ICU, moved to a psychiatric floor for 12 days, and then transferred to a different hospital for liver failure. The second patient was admitted to the hospital, discharged, and revisited the ED the same day of discharge after again using “bath salts.” The third patient was treated in the ED twice, with the visits 1 month apart.

Apparently, the drug also carries a high risk of ending up in an embarassing news story:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Police say an Alum Creek man high on bath salts killed his neighbor’s pygmy goat and that neighbors found him in his bedroom, dressed in a bra and panties, next to the dead animal, said Lt. Bryan Stover of the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go take a bath.