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Synthetic drug task force prepares for 'Krokodil'

A local task force formed months ago to address the proliferation of bath salts is now concerned about the spread of a new deadly drug.

The Greater Dayton Area Hospitals Association Synthetic Drug Task Force met Wednesday morning to talk about the drug "Krokodil," a homemade type of opiate that has devastated lives in Russia and other countries and could end up in Southwest Ohio.

The group consists of emergency room doctors, forensic nurses, undercover officers, Miami Valley Crime Lab personnel and others.

The professionals share their firsthand accounts and knowledge of illicit-drug trends they're seeing in the community.

Clark County Sheriff Gene Kelly said the task force was formed 18 months ago in large part to address the use of synthetic drugs like "bath salts."

"Bringing in ER doctors, forensic nurses ... they see patients who are experiencing overdose symptoms," Kelly said. "They're not going to be arrested. It's not a crime. But they will tell them information that they won't tell law enforcement."

On Wednesday the group shared information about Krokodil, which can eat away a user's skin over time and cause other serious health problems.

Kelly said Krokodil remains on the horizon as to whether it will become a problem in Ohio, but there have been reports from a doctor of it being here in at least one Miami Valley community.

"Yellow Springs ... it's just south of Springfield and north of Dayton. He's sees a wide population of people in his practice," Kelly said.

Krokodil may not become a problem here because one of its base ingredients is codeine, which is available over-the-counter in other countries but is a controlled substance in the U.S., according to Cindy Jennings, forensic nurse at Miami Valley Hospital.

"This is an extremely toxic and very addictive type of morphine," Jennings said. "It's artificially made with petroleum products. They can use kerosene. They can use gasoline. It's not like you can clear out all those products when you make this particular substance."

While Krokodil is something the task force wants to learn about and prepare for, Jennings said the number one problem drug right now is heroin and hospitals are seeing overdoses on a weekly and sometimes daily basis.

Kelly said the heroin problem is at "epidemic levels" in local communities.

"What we're discovering is that the heroin today is very strong," he said. "It is not being cut. which means that the heroin is coming directly into our communities and we're going to see more overdoses and deaths."

The task force plans to host a symposium next year on synthetic drugs.

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