|Systematic (IUPAC) name|
|Legal status||Prohibited (S9) (AU) Schedule I (US)|
|Dependence liability||Very High|
|Synonyms||Desomorphine, Dihydrodesoxymorphine, Permonid|
|Mol. mass||271.354 g/mol|
|(what is this?)|
Desomorphine (dihydrodesoxymorphine, Permonid, street name krokodil) is a derivative from morphine (an opioid) with powerful, fast-acting sedative and analgesic effects. Patented in 1932, Desomorphine was used in Switzerland under the brand name Permonid and was described as having a fast onset and a short duration of action, with relatively little nausea or respiratory depression compared to equivalent doses of morphine.
Desomorphine is derived from morphine where the 6-hydroxyl group and the 7,8 double bond have been reduced. The traditional synthesis of desomorphine starts from α-chlorocodide, which is itself obtained by reacting thionyl chloride with codeine. By catalytic reduction, α-chlorocodide gives dihydrodesoxycodeine, which yields desomorphine on demethylation.
Desomorphine abuse in Russia attracted international attention in 2010 due to an increase in clandestine production, presumably due to its relatively simple synthesis from codeine available over-the-counter. Abuse of homemade desomorphine was first reported in Siberia in 2003 when Russia started a major crackdown on heroin production and trafficking, but has since spread throughout Russia and the neighboring former Soviet republics.
The drug can be made from codeine and iodine derived from OTC medications and red phosphorus from match strikers, in a process similar to the manufacture of methamphetamine from pseudoephedrine. Like methamphetamine, desomorphine made this way is often contaminated with various agents. The street name in Russia for homemade desomorphine is krokodil (Russian: крокодил, crocodile), possibly related to the chemical name of the precursor α-chlorocodide, or similarity of a skin, damaged by the drug use, to crocodile leather.
Due to difficulties in procuring heroin, combined with easy and cheap access to over-the-counter pharmacy products containing codeine in Russia, use of krokodil has increased. It has been estimated that around 100,000 people use krokodil in Russia and around 20,000 in Ukraine. One death in Poland in December 2011 was also believed to be caused by krokodil use, and its use has been confirmed among Russian expatriate communities in a number of other European countries.
In Russia, desomorphine was declared illegal narcotic analgesic in 1998. However, while codeine-containing drugs generally have been prescription products in Europe, in Russia they were not until June 2012.
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