Washington state Poison Center warns of 'bath salts'

The relatively new and dangerous drug is starting to show up in Washington, officials say.

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The Washington state Poison Center is warning people about a new designer drug called "bath salts."

"Washington state was late in experiencing this nationwide trend but cases are on the increase," noted Dr. William Hurley, medical director of the center.

The substances, which contain MDPV, or 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone, are labeled as "bath salts," as a means of avoiding regulation, he said. Other products containing MDPV are marketed as plant growth stimulators, and even insect repellent.

While the agency does not gather geographic statistics, the problem does not yet seem to be prevalent in the Walla Walla area, said Jim Williams, executive director of the Washington Poison Center. "But a hospital may see a patient with this issue and is under no obligation to report it to us. And emergency room physicians may not realize what they are seeing, depending on what the individual says."

Users report the chemicals elicit extreme reactions such as intense cravings like those related to methamphetamine use. Effects of MDVP include increased blood pressure and heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, delusions, extreme paranoia and suicidal thoughts.

In a letter to emergency departments across the state, Hurley said the product is usually packaged in powdered form and labeled not for human consumption. "It's being sold in convenience stores, gas stations and on the Internet."

The drug is most often snorted or eaten, but can be used intravenously or rectally.

Many patients report uncontrolled cravings for more of the substance and bingeing for up to three days, yet the chemical does not show up in drug tests.

MDVP is a legal substance in Washington, but states that saw early and heavy use of this drug have all issued emergency bans on the chemicals, according to the poison center. The effects of these chemicals have been purported to be extreme in some cases and potentially long-lasting; they are banned in the United Kingdom, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.

For more information call the Washington Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322. Check out her blog at blogs.ublabs.org/fromthestorageroom.

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