Drug dealers often "cut" their pure product with other substances to increase profit margins. A seven-year-long Brazilian police study found such relatively benign substances as caffeine to some pretty awful stuff.
BRASÍLIA - After seven years of steady lab research, Brazilian Federal Police have unveiled the "DNA" of several illicit drugs on the market. Confiscated drugs were put under the microscope to identify the chemical makeup, with specialists now able to tell the level of purity of cocaine, crack and other drugs — and to specify what other kinds of substances have been added to them.
Cocaine, for instance, is mixed with antithermics, caffeine, anesthetics, and even vermicides typically used to kill intestinal worms. These substances may increase the health risk of a substance already considered deleterious.
Called "Pequi" (a short for "chemical profile" in Portuguese), the drug profiling project was developed in 2005. However, it was not before 2009 that the police started to send regular samples of drugs anytime a seizure of five kilograms or more was made.
Phenacetin, a forbidden antithermic and anesthetic, was found in 35% of all cocaine samples. In 11% of it there was also levamisole, a vermicide used for animals.
In some cases, the same sample of cocaine contains more than one add-on. These products are utilized to reduce the amount of pure drug in each dose sold to the final consumer, thus raising the dealers' profit.
According to psychiatrist Dartiu Xavier, from the São Paulo-based Orientation and Care for Addicts Program, there has been insufficient studies of the consequences of such substances when mixed with cocaine. However, he says there is clearly reason for concern.
"Cocaine offers risks of heart attack, for example, and this may be increased when mixed with substances like caffeine," says Xavier.
Read the original article in Portuguese
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