In the past few months there has been a spate of products sold as ‘bath salts’ under names such as Star Dust, that contain mephedrone and Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), both stimulant drugs that are illegal in some countries.
The products have been found in a number of convenience stores in the US and online, according to US media, and in response vice president for the cosmetics program at the Personal Care Products Council’s, Jay Ansell, has underlined that these products bear no relation to the bath salts they imitate.
“The recent news report about the illicit distribution of mephedrone and MDPV has caused significant confusion for consumers…Designer drugs like these are created specifically to get around existing drug laws, as in the case of the cannabis substitute Spice, sold as an exotic incense blend. Bath salts are the latest target for this type of exploitation,” Ansell said.
“It is unfortunate that recent news reports are confusing the sale of illicit drugs with fake names and the actual bath salts that are safely used and enjoyed by consumers worldwide,” he added.
Potential federal ban
The substances are not yet illegal in the US, but New York Senator Charles Schumer is seeking a federal ban which would add mephedrone and MDPV to a federally controlled substance act.
“By calling them bath salts they are trying to deliberately mislead people into thinking they are an everyday product. These dangerous drugs are sold in convenience stores, smokeshops and online for as little 14- 40 dollars,” Schumer said in an address.
Moves to tackle the problem are not just being made on federal lines - earlier this month Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said he was classifying the substances as schedule 1 drug in Louisiana.
Poison Control Centers have also underlined the severity of the problem stating that the number of calls relating to the substances they received in the first few weeks of January totalled 117, in comparison to the 234 calls received during all of 2010.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the substances found in these products can cause increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions.
Henry A. Spiller, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Center, said the patients his center has treated “are having a break with reality”.
“They have completely lost it,” he said.