Desomorphine is a synthetic opioid with powerful, fast-acting effects, such as sedation and analgesia. First synthesized in 1932 and patented in 1934 at Russia, 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 compared to equivalent doses of morphine. Dose-by-dose it is eight to ten times more potent than morphine.

    Medical Use

    Desomorphine was previously used in Switzerland and Russia for the treatment of severe pain; although for many years up to 1981, when its use was terminated, it was being used to treat a single person in Bern, Switzerland with a rare illness.

    While desomorphine was found to be faster acting and more effective than morphine for the rapid relief of severe pain, its shorter duration of action and the relatively more severe respiratory depression produced at equianalgesic doses, as well as a high incidence of other side effects such as hypotension and urinary retention, were felt to outweigh any potential advantages.


    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 over-the-counter medications and red phosphorus from match strikers, in a process similar to the manufacturing 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 increased until 2012. In 2012 the Russian federal government introduced new restrictions for the sale of codeine-containing medications.

    This policy change likely diminished, but did not extinguish krokodil use in Russia. 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 have been caused by krokodil use, and its use has been confirmed among Russian expatriate communities in a number of other European countries.

    Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; from Wikipedia article "Desomorphine".Login

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