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March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An analysis of poison control data from nine Midwestern states reveals a complex picture of the range of emergency patients poisoned by legal "designer drugs" known as bath salts, with one being just one day old and an unusually high proportion sick enough to be admitted to the intensive care unit of the hospital. Older users, mostly male, were more likely to inject the drugs and were also more likely to become critically ill, according to a study published online Tuesday in
Annals of Emergency Medicine ("A Nine State Analysis of Designer Stimulant, 'Bath Salt,' Hospital Visits Reported to Poison Control Centers")
"The wide availability of these drugs at gas stations and convenience stores may impart a false sense of security, which surely is what led to the death of a 24-year-old woman who took the drugs before a concert," said lead study author
Brandon Warrick, M.D., of Children's Hospital of Michigan Regional Poison Center in
Detroit, Mich. "More than 16 percent of patients who came to the ER because of these drugs were in critical condition or died. Even though synthetic or 'designer' drugs can lead to significant outcomes, legislation has been difficult.
Kentucky was one of the first states to restrict sale of these drugs, but it turns out to have one of the highest rates of use."
Researchers reviewed data from The National Poison Data System, which reported 1,633 patients seeking emergency care in a nine-state region (
South Dakota and
Wisconsin) in a one-year period (
November 1, 2010 through
November 30, 2011). Patient ages ranged from 1 day to 61 years and 67.9 percent of users were male. The highest rates of use were reported in
Kentucky and the lowest rates of use were reported in
North Dakota and
Nearly half (47.9 percent) of all cases were for patients 18 to 29 years old. Older patients were more likely to inject the drugs and attempt suicide. More than one-quarter (26 percent) of patients combined bath salt use with other drugs, such as opioids, marijuana and alcohol. The drugs were sold as insect repellant, natural stain remover, plant food, ladybug attractant and bath salts.