Krokodil (Desomorphine): Desomorphine, known by the street name krokodil, is an opioid derivative of codeine. Like heroin and other opioids, it has a sedative and analgesic effect and is highly addictive.
Desomorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid commercialized by Roche, with powerful, fast-acting effects, such as sedation and analgesia. It was first discovered and patented by a German team working for Knoll in 1920 but was not generally recognized. It was later synthesized in 1932 by Lyndon Frederick Small. Small also successfully patented it in 1934 in the United States. 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.
Desomorphine is a morphine analogue 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 treating thionyl chloride with codeine. By catalytic reduction, α-chlorocodide gives dihydrodesoxycodeine, which yields desomorphine on demethylation
Desomorphine (Dihydrodesoxymorphine or
dihydrodesoxymorphine-D) is a synthetic opioid-like
substance synthesized in the 1930s in the United States.
Its street names are “Krokodil” and “Crocodil.”
Desomorphine produces an opiate-like action with a fast
onset and brief action. As a powerful morphine derivative,
it is about ten times more potent than morphine.
Desomorphine abuse first appeared internationally in
2002. The skin, in long-term abusers of desormorphine,
may present as greenish and scaly due to damaged blood
vessels, thrombosis and damaged soft tissues
surrounding the injection sites. The skin’s appearance is
similar to a crocodile’s scaled and rugged skin. The skin
injuries can eventually develop into severe tissue damage
leading to thrombophlebitis and gangrene. These
conditions usually result in limb amputation or sometimes
ol; CAS Registry Number 427-00-9) is a semi-synthetic
opioid most closely related in the chemical structure to
morphine, and produces opioid-like effects. It has the
molecular formula C17H21NO2, and molecular weight
271.35 g/mol. It has a melting point of 189°C and is a solid
at room temperature. The salt forms of desomorphine are
freely soluble in water.
Pharmacology studies on laboratory animals with
desomorphine demonstrated that desomorphine was
generally more potent than morphine in all tested
activities including: 1) toxicity in white mice and young
rabbits, 2) analgesic action in cats, 3) respiratory effects
in rabbits, 4) general depression in rabbits, and 5)
gastrointestinal motility in rabbits. Desomorphine has a
rapid onset and a brief duration of action. Limited animal
studies have indicated that in comparison to morphine,
desomorphine is at least 15 times more effective as a
general depressant, more than 10 times as effective as
an analgesic, and three times more toxic.
Abuse potential studies of desomorphine in animals
had shown that it exhibited limited addiction liability. In
monkeys, desomorphine had 10 times the depressant
effect of morphine, developed tolerance less rapidly and
less completely, and did not lead to the appearance of
abstinence symptoms during withdrawal. Studies in rats
receiving a daily injection of desomorphine at a constant
dose showed that the animals developed tolerance slowly
to the depressant effect of desomorphine.
Clinical studies in humans have demonstrated that
desomorphine appeared to be an adequate substitute for
morphine in symptomatic treatment. Desomorphine
produces relatively brief but powerful narcotic and
analgesic effects. It also has a relatively powerful
respiratory depressant effect to which tolerance does not
develop. Repeated administration of desomorphine at
short intervals in patients with severe cancer pain
indicated that desomorphine produced a high degree of
The National Forensic Laboratory Information System
(NFLIS) is a DEA database that collects scientifically
verified data on drug items and cases submitted to and
analyzed by federal, state, and local forensic laboratories.
In 2004, two drug reports/exhibits submitted to forensic
laboratories were identified as desomorphine. Since then,
no other exhibits have been identified in NFLIS as
desomorphine, to date.
Desomorphine is abused for its opioid-like effects. As
with most opiates, abuse of desomorphine is associated
with tolerance, addiction, and dependence. As a cheaper
alternative to heroin within the drug abuse community,
desomorphine abuse was reported to be increasing, in
2009, among Russian young adults. Desomorphine is
illicitly synthesized from codeine by abusers and generally
Desomorphine is available illicitly from sources
through the internet.
Desomorphine is controlled as a schedule I
substance under the Controlled Substances Act.