This month Delaware Health and Social Services’ Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was notified that levamisole was found to be used as a cutting agent in crack cocaine in Florida. This prompted a review of recently completed lab results by the office's Controlled Substance Unit, which found 31 bags of cocaine base (crack) cut with levamisole. According to Dr. Callery, Director of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, "To the best of our knowledge we have not seen this before."
Levamisole is a cancer (antineoplastic) medication used in cancer treatment. It is also widely used in veterinary medicine in the de-worming of many animals. Serious side effects have been reported with the use of levamisole including: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives); decreased bone marrow function or blood problems (fever or chills; or signs of infection); nervous system problems (confusion or loss of consciousness, extreme fatigue, memory loss, muscle weakness, numbness or tingling; seizure, speech disturbances); and others.
There have been reported fatalities from this drug as well as from crack.
Patients with symptoms that may be related to levamisole after crack cocaine use should see a physician immediately.
Patients with substance abuse problems can receive help by calling the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health at (302) 255-9399.
To contact DPH about this Health Advisory, call 1-888-295-5156. This number is answered during normal business hours, and during non-business hours for emergencies.