WASHINGTON (AP) - White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske warned people Tuesday against taking the newest synthetic drugs, often marketed as "bath salts" and being sold legally on the Internet and in drug paraphernalia stores.
The powdered drugs are sold under such brand names as "Ivory Wave" or "Purple Wave." Kerlikowske said synthetic stimulants in them have made hundreds of users across the country sick already this year. A Mississippi sheriff's office has said the drugs are suspected in an apparent overdose death there.
"They pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of young people and anyone who uses them," Kerlikowske said in a written statement. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has received 251 calls related to "bath salts" so far this year, compared to 236 such calls to poison centers during all of 2010.
Kerlikowske said these stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure and heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions.
Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Kerlikowske's office, said the drugs mimic the effects of cocaine, ecstasy, and LSD.
Kerlikowske's office convened a meeting of federal drug and health officials at the White House Tuesday to discuss their growing popularity. He was later briefed on that discussion, Lemaitre said.
The "bath salts" drugs, also sometimes labeled as plant food, contain the synthetic stimulants MDPV, or 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone, and mephedrone. Those chemicals are neither controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration nor approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.
No plans for federal regulation plans were announced Tuesday. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has drafted a bill that would add the chemicals to the list of federally controlled substances.