• Sweden's news in English

Sweden fails to warn users of 'tainted' cocaine

TT/Rebecca Martin · 22 Jun 2011, 10:21

Published: 22 Jun 2011 10:21 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Last week six men in Gothenburg were charged after a police raid showed them to be in possession of a kilo of cocaine.

The drugs turned out to be cut with the substance tetramisole, commonly used by vets to treat worms in animals.

"It is not unusual that we find tetramisole and other substances in the cocaine when we do a raid. And it is becoming more common," said Lotta Rapp of the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science (Statens kriminaltekniska laboratorium - SKL) to daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

In 2007, tetramisole turned up in 7 percent of the cocaine dealt on Swedish streets.

In 2008 it had increased to 15-20 percent. And since then it has tripled to close to 65 percent, according to the laboratory statistics.

Despite warnings from the EU issued three years ago that cocaine cut with tetramisole was being circulated in Europe and cautions from the United States where two people have reportedly died of the side effects, Swedish authorities have failed to issue warnings.

In the US, a public warning was issued in 2009 after the Drug Enforcement Administration sounded the alarm.

According to Björn Beerman, a professor at the Medical Products Agency (Läkemedelsverket), the presence of tetramisole makes an already dangerous drug more hazardous.

Although the side effects are fairly uncommon they are nevertheless very serious.

According to Beerman, side effects are fatal for around 10 percent of affected users.

But officials with the Swedish National Institute of Public Health (Folkhäsoinstitutet), the Swedish agency that generally issues health warnings, don't think it is their responsibility to inform the public of this danger.

“In this case it is more a question of acute poisoning and because it is a drug related issue, I wonder if this shouldn’t be a question for the Swedish poisons Information Centre (Giftinformationscentralen) which is part of the Medical Products Agency,“ said Anders Persson of the National Institute of Public Health to SvD.

But at the Medical Products Agency, they pass the buck back to the Institute.

Story continues below…

“It is if it was a registered drug with side effects that we have a responsibility, but even so there is nothing that says we couldn’t say something. However, I think that this is more a question for the National Institute of Public Health, they have a broader assignment,” Per-Åke Sandvold of the narcotics unit at the Medical Products Agency told the newspaper.

But according to Berne Stålenkrantz, the chairman of the Swedish Drug Users Union (Svenska Brukarföreningen) the practice is in line with Swedish policy not to inform addicts about such dangers.

“But the way we see it is that those that use must have a right to information and in this case we feel it would be appropriate to inform them,” he told SvD.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:22 June 22, 2011 by pacfactor
I would like to have thought that letting people know about this bad "Cut" would actually reduce the number of people already using it?? ie, your not going to want to pay for poison!
12:29 June 22, 2011 by canuk
Its called natural selection.
12:31 June 22, 2011 by luke123
"But officials with the Swedish National Institute of Public Health (Folkhäsoinstitutet), the Swedish agency that generally issues health warnings, don't think it is their responsibility to inform the public of this danger"

That is totally immoral and irresponsable! Knowing about a danger and knowing that it will harm people and saying nothing is criminal neglect in most sane countries.

Not in fascist Sweden, apparently.
12:50 June 22, 2011 by Eroth
@pacfactor, Well, more people dying from drugs would also reduce the number of users and thats more in line with the Swedish anti-drug strategy. To warn about dangerous additives in drugs would be to enable safer and easier drug use and thats a big no-no since harm reduction is considered to be like giving up the war on drugs according to our politicians. In Sweden drug use is supposed to be as dangerous as possible because if it where less likley to kill you more people would try it.
12:53 June 22, 2011 by Swedesmith
Legalize it, tax it, control it.
13:14 June 22, 2011 by eddie123
are these people serious? why should the government warn anyone about tainted cocaine? what's the governments business in that? rather, allow them addicts to consume the stuff, take ill and alert hospitals to report people showing symptoms of having consumed tainted cocaine to the police. cocaine is a banned substance and it is illegal to possess in Sweden. the government should not aid addicts by warning them about consuming tainted coke when we all know that coke is dangerous even when not tainted.
13:35 June 22, 2011 by Mpf
Cocaine is illigal isn't it? Whether you die due to its use or because of other ingredients I don't see why the government or health authority should be dragged over the coals for not telling users. Cocaine will probably kill you anyway, there are also other problems associated with the illegal drug world ie human trafiking/prostitution etc.

Its illegal don't do it, it is harmful and affects others negetively. But look on the bright side at least you won't die of worm infestation.

I have no time for people who take illegal drugs of any shape or form. While it's not legal - don't do it. Others suffer because you need a fix.
14:14 June 22, 2011 by Stickeroo
Amateurs...everyone knows you use Benzocaine to cut Coke...not whatever garbage they we're using...tisk tisk!
14:21 June 22, 2011 by TheOneWhoTravels
I just had a great idea. The best way to avoid cocaine that has poison in it is to...you know...NOT TAKE COCAINE!

14:27 June 22, 2011 by Mpf
Had another thought.

Why are they so hung up on the fact that this strain of cocaine has harful chemicals in it?

Isn't cocaine harmful to ones health anyway?

So if users are not taking any notice of the warnings about cocaine why would anyone think they would take any notice of the warning of "bad" cocaine.
15:14 June 22, 2011 by Valdemaratterdag
"two-thirds of cocaine in Sweden may contain an antibacterial agent primarily used to rid animals of parasites. "

It seems that the cocaine is being produced exactly in the fashion it should be. It is made to get rid of parasites.
15:42 June 22, 2011 by luke123
The war on drugs has failed.


The high-level commission which includes three former heads of state - from Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, former Reagan cabinet official George P. Schultz, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker and Virgin mogul Richard Branson calls on governments to end the criminalization of cannabis and other currently illicit substances."

16:26 June 22, 2011 by edpe71
The social consequences of cocaine use are terrible and range from increased crime to torn families etc. As cocaine is a psychologically addictive drug, as opposed to heroin that becomes physically addictive, it is difficult to kick. At least one of the government agencies should take the initiative and advise of the tainted drug in the hope that it might dissuade other users.

Whether the "war on drugs" will ever be won is hard to say but the struggle must continue. To not continue is like saying we may as well disband the police force because they can't put a stop to crime.
17:27 June 22, 2011 by GLO
Good, Sounds like a good way to get rid of drug users.
20:39 June 22, 2011 by DJECKY
It seems as if sweden wants to legalised the use of coccaine.Allow them to use it and die all,, they have no use in the society.

Let the cocciane and mbanga,marijuanna,whits or what they call that their things be contaminated up to 100% so that they should stop waisting this preciouse kronors that i am looking and not seeing.

Allow them to use it more.the government has been trying to eradicate it from the society so the government should be glade now that the coccaine it self will eradicate it self together with its users into a mass grave thank God thats a natural solution we should be glade instead.Coccain kill all of them.
01:34 June 23, 2011 by mkvgtired
"side effects are fatal for around 10 percent of affected users." The article states there have been 2 deaths in the US. Granted, it does not mention how much US cocaine is thought to be contaminated. The US has a population of about 300 million people. Granted all (or even most) probably do not use cocaine, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say if there are only two deaths from this substance the original quoted figure is probably quite inflated and used to scare people. I am not saying that this additive is not dangerous, but it seems like the 10% figure might be a little out of line.
05:09 June 23, 2011 by Luke R D
@ eddie123 "are these people serious? why should the government warn anyone about tainted cocaine? what's the governments business in that?"

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of drugs, it is NOT the government's right to pick and choose which information is released - this defines dictatorship (...moreso than now!). The government SHOULD be there for a range of reasons, one of them being to openly advise of any dangers to its people (yes, yes, I know, that doesn't happen already, governments not truly interested in our well-being...all of the above and more). This is why the government should be doing this, because this is what they were put in to do. it is not their right to choose, it is their responsibility and duty, simply.
07:03 June 23, 2011 by Da Goat
I did not know the authorities were involved in the cocaine game ???????

I thought if they know this then they know where to confiscate it from!
08:45 June 24, 2011 by nokiE
Drugs are bad, okay?. When those narcotics are tainted with other narcotics, the outcomes can be devastating.drugs can be very damaging not only to the person using it but also to his/her family. When over 80 percent of street cocaine in the United States and Canada causes users' skin to decay and fall off, government bodies take notice. The hospital charges for that will definitely cost a payday loan or 2.
23:57 June 24, 2011 by ajs42548
Bad cocaine is a redundancy is it not?
Today's headlines
Hundreds protest Swedish asylum laws
Around 1,000 people protested in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Persson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday demonstrated in Stockholm and in many other parts of the country to protest Sweden’s tough new laws on asylum-seekers.

Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Watch this amazing footage of Sweden’s landscapes
A still from the aerial footage of Sweden. Photo: Nate Summer-Cook

The spectacular drone footage captures both Sweden's south and the opposite extreme, thousands of kilometres north.

Sweden could be allowed to keep border controls: EU
Police ID checks at Hyllie station in southern Sweden. Photo: Stig-Åke Jönsson/TT

Sweden could be allowed to keep ID controls on its border with Denmark beyond the current end date of November, following discussions among EU leaders in Brussels last night.

Why women in Sweden will work for free by November
File photo of a woman working in a Swedish office. Photo: Anders Willund/TT

A new study into the gender pay gap suggests Sweden still has some work to do.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available