Krokodil, a flesh-rotting drug, has been found in patients for the first time in the U.S. Two cases reported in Arizona on Thursday suggest that the drug has recently established a presence in this country.

Krokodil is a heroin like drug concocted by mixing codeine with gasoline, alocohol or other similar substances. Originating in Russia, Krokodil reportedly emerged in 2009 as a cheaper alternative to heroin despite its grizzly side effects. Within two to three weeks of use, Krokodil begins infecting the user: the skin turns green and dies, effectively rotting the flesh around the injection site.

“The scaly green condition spreads to the rest of the body and the toxic drug also effects bone tissue, eating away at users from the inside,” reported CNN.

In 2011, two years after the drug became known, Krokodil use had become a huge epidemic in Russia, but reports of Krokodil use in the U.S. had never been officially released or confirmed. On Thursday, the first two U.S. cases of Krokodil were reported in Arizona this week, though CNN reports that there have been a total of five cases in the U.S. this year.

“As far as I know, these are the first cases in the United States that are reported. So we’re extremely frightened,” said Frank LoVecchio, co-medical director of the Banner Good Samaritan Poison & Drug Information Center.

Krokodil users usually have a life expectancy of two to three years with continued use, and recovering addicts walk away with permanent mental and physical damage.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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