The Grapevine

New Designer Drug 'N-Bomb' Has Already Killed 17 People; Poison Centers Fear Trend Will Worsen

N Bomb
New synthetic drug has already led to at least 17 deaths. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Synthetic drugs continue to rise in popularity due to easy accessibility, false advertising, and chemicals that are not easily detected in standard drug screenings. Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center have called attention to a new designer drug called “N-Bomb” that has resulted in at least 17 deaths in the United States since being introduced to the market in 2010. The Drug Enforcement Administration declared N-Bomb a Schedule I substance in November.

"This is a dangerous drug, it is potentially deadly, and parents, law enforcement, first responders, and physicians need to be aware of its existence and its effects." Dr. Donna Seger, professor of clinical medicine and medical director of the Tennessee Poison Center, said in a statement. "The recreational use of synthetic (designer) psychoactive substances with stimulant, euphoric, and/or hallucinogenic properties has risen dramatically in recent years."

N-Bomb, also marketed as “legal” or “natural” LSD, is a relatively new synthetic drug from the NBOMe class of drugs. According to the United National Office on Drugs and Crime, NBOMe’s were developed for the specific medical purpose to map serotonin receptors in the brain. Today, however, they are one of the most frequently abused designer psychoactive substances. N-Bomb can be sold as blotter paper, powder, or liquid that can be ingested, snorted, or inserted rectally or vaginally.

Patients treated for poisoning related to N-Bomb often require heavy sedation to calm aggression and violence as well as external cooling measures to treat hyperthermia, or overheating of the body. The goal of treating a patient hospitalized over synthetic drug use is managing agitation and preventing organ damage. Authorities cracking down on the transport and sale of more traditional recreational substances, such as cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana has led to a larger demand for synthetic drugs.

"The quality control on these street drugs is nonexistent, and misjudging a dose could lead to significant toxicity," Seger added. "Some of the symptoms of toxicity may include hypertension, rapid, or irregular heartbeat, hyperthermia, dilated pupils, agitation, aggressive behavior, delirium, hallucinations, seizures, and even renal failure or coma."

Back in May 2014, the DEA announced that it would begin cracking down on synthetic drugs in 25 states over particular health problems due to the revolving door of ingredients used in their production. The DEA’s initiative was also spurred on by reports that revenue from synthetic drugs often end up in the pockets of terrorist and criminal organizations in the Middle East. Over the course of the DEA crackdown, authorities made over 120 arrests, served around 200 warrants, and seized upward of $20 million in cash.

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