History of the Drug Krokodil

Krokodil is the illicit street version of a drug patented in 1932.

Krokodil
Krokodil - drug with flesh eating side effects. Getty Images

Krokodil is the street name for desomorphine an opiate-like drug similar to and a substitute for heroin used by addicts. Krokodil or desomorphine began its history as a patented drug. US patent 1980972 was issued to chemist, Lyndon Frederick Small for a "Morphine Derivative and Processes" on November 13, 1934. The drug was briefly manufactured and marketed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche under the brand name of Permonid but was abandoned as a commercial product for its short shelf life and highly addictive nature.

In the early 2000s, the drug resurfaced in Russia as krokodil, a home-brewed heroin substitute that takes about thirty minutes to manufacture from codeine pills and other substances. The home brewing of this drug includes the inclusion of impurities and toxic substances that have lead to some horrific consequences for users. Krokodil (Russian for crocodile) is named after one of the drug's major side effect, the greenish and scaly appearance of the damaged and rotting skin of users. Take one look at this Huffington Post video report and you'll be quickly convinced never to try this drug.

If You Don't Want It - Recycled Patents

Many illicit street drugs (and even semi-legal ones) have had their origins in legitimate research done by pharmaceutical companies, research that has even resulted in patents being issued. For example, organic chemist John Huffman was the unwitting inventor of a synthetic version of marijuana.

A few enterprising individuals read John Huffman's research on synthetic cannabinoids and began manufacturing and selling synthetic marijuana products such as Spice. These products were legal for a short spell of time, however, in most places they are no longer legal.

Another popular street drug, is MDMA or Molly as it is now called.

The original formula for Molly was patented in 1913 by Merck, a German chemical company. Molly was intended to be a diet pill, however, Merck decided against marketing the drug and abandoned it. MDMA was made illegal in 1983, seventy years after it was originally invented.

"Heroin" was once a registered trademarks belonging to Bayer, the same folks that invented aspirin. A method of manufacturing heroin from the opium poopy was developed in 1874, as a substitute for morphine, and believe or not was used as a cough suppressant.

The mind-bending psychedelic drug LSD was first synthesized on November 16, 1938 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann while working for Sandoz Laboratories in Switzerland. However, it was a few years before Albert Hofmann realized what he had invented.

Until 1914, cocaine was legal and even an ingredient in the soft drink Coca-Cola. The method of manufacturing cocaine from the coca leaf was invented in the 1860s.

Lyndon Frederick Small 1897—1957

A 1931 Time Magazine article discusses the work of Frederick Small Lyndon in relation to the growing opiate epidemic in the United States. (see full article)

....the Bureau of Social Hygiene gave the National Research Council funds for a study of drug addiction and the invention of a drug which would do for medicine everything which the habit-forming drugs do, yet not cause habit itself. Such a harmless, beneficial drug would make the manufacture of the baneful drugs needless. Then they could be completely suppressed.

Council discovered Dr. Lyndon Frederick Small, just returned from two years of study in Europe, at the University of Virginia and financed a special laboratory for him. Out of a coal tar product called phenanthrene he has synthesized several drugs which closely resemble the chemical structure and physiological action of morphine. He sends them to Professor Charles Wallis Edmunds of the University of Michigan who tests them on animals. The two are confident that within perhaps a few months they will have an authentic drug which will not make, as morphine, heroin and opium do, pasty-faced, emaciated, depraved liars, out of its users.