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April 2018 – United States: Severe bleeding after synthetic cannabinoid use linked to a possible contamination

WASHINGTON D.C., United States – April 2018: As of 15 April 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has received reports of 126 cases of people suffering from severe bleeding, including three deaths after the use of synthetic cannabinoid products. Between 10 March and 5 April 2018, several persons in Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and Wisconsin were also presented to emergency departments with unexplained serious bleeding after having used synthetic cannabinoids. A working hypothesis of the authorities concerned is that these synthetic cannabinoid products were contaminated with brodifacoum. Laboratory investigation confirms brodifacoum exposure in at least 18 patients and at least three synthetic cannabinoid product samples related to this outbreak have tested positive for brodifacoum. Health authorities have warned the public about recent increased risks from use of these products.

According to the Maryland Poison Center and the Maryland Department of Health, reported symptoms related to the use of these synthetic cannabinoid products include:

  • Bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding of the gums
  • Bleeding out of proportion to the level of injury
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Excessively heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Excessive back pain

For further information and updates on this ongoing development, please see:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – “Outbreak Alert: Potential Life-Threatening Vitamin K-Dependent Antagonist Coagulopathy Associated With Synthetic Cannabinoids Use”
https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USCDC/bulletins/1e6dac3

Illinois Department of Public Health – “Synthetic Cannabinoids”
http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/synthetic-cannabinoids

UNODC Report “Synthetic cannabinoids: Key facts about the largest and most dynamic group of NPS”
https://www.unodc.org/documents/scientific/Global_SMART_Update_13_web.pdf

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