|Synthetic marijuana use results in acute kidney injury, MMWR reports|
|February 25, 2013|
An article in the Feb. 15 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) describes 16 cases in the U.S. in which acute kidney injury followed a person's ingestion of synthetic cannabinoids. Kelly Weidenbach-Vigil, doctoral student in health policy and management's health leadership program at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, is a co-author of the article, "Acute Kidney Injury Associated with Synthetic Cannabinoid Use - Multiple States, 2012."
Weidenbach-Vigil, who is also a surveillance epidemiologist in the Wyoming Department of Health's Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Program, noted that in March 2012, the Wyoming Department of Health was notified that three patients were hospitalized for unexplained acute kidney injury, all of whom reported recent use of synthetic marijuana.
These synthetic products, which are designed as drugs of abuse, typically are dissolved in solvent, applied to dried plant material and smoked as a marijuana alternative. Because acute kidney injury had not been reported previously in users of these drugs, the investigators wanted to determine whether 1) there was toxicity which previously had been unrecognized; 2) a particular batch of the drug was contaminated; or 3) a new synthetic compound was entering the market.
After the Wyoming Department of Health issued a national alert, 16 cases of acute kidney injury after synthetic marijuana use were reported in six states. Researchers examined medical records and conducted follow-up interviews and laboratory analyses. Findings showed that no single synthetic brand or compound explained all 16 cases. Toxicologic analysis identified a previously unreported fluorinated variety of synthetic marijuana, known as XLR-11, in four of five product samples and four of six patients' specimens.
The MMWR report encourages public health practitioners, poison center staff members and clinicians to be aware of potential for renal or other unusual toxicities in users of synthetic cannabinoid products and suggests that public health professionals ask patients about their use of the synthetic drug in cases of unexplained acute kidney injury.
Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or email@example.com.
|Last updated February 27, 2013|