Chicago (CBS) – Illinois is getting a boost in the fight against the potentially deadly effects of synthetic marijuana. 800,000 tablets of Vitamin K have been donated to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Vitamin K tablets counteract a chemical in rat poison, which is used in synthetic marijuana, or K2.
A chemical found in rat poison, brodifacoum, prevents blood from clotting, resulting in severe bleeding. High doses of Vitamin K taken over several months can help restore the blood’s ability to clot.
The Illinois Health Department believes K2 laced with rat poison is causing users to suffer severe bleeding because a chemical in it prevents the blood from clotting. At least three people have died in the state after using synthetic marijuana and 140 others have been reported ill.
The donation comes from the Bausch Foundation, the independent charitable organization of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc.
“Governor Bruce Rauner and IDPH would like to thank the Bausch Foundation and Valeant for this significant donation of vitamin K to IDPH. This medicine will be used to treat people who suffer severe bleeding from using tainted synthetic cannabinoids,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.
“These individuals will need to take up to 30 tablets a day for up to six months, which could cost several thousands of dollars. This donation will allow every individual who has experienced severe bleeding, as well as any future cases, to receive lifesaving treatment free of charge,” said Dr. Shah.
Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made, mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed on to dried plant material. These chemicals are called cannabinoids because they act on the same brain cell receptors as the main active ingredient in marijuana. The health effects from using synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable, harmful, and deadly.
As soon as IDPH identified that the severe bleeding was caused by rat poison, IDPH began working on access to treatment. Because of the large amount of vitamin K needed, the long duration of treatment, and costs up to thousands of dollars per patient, IDPH started discussions with key stakeholders to find a solution with no financial burden.