Blueberry “spice” in Wyoming linked to cases of renal failure

March 3, 2012, 3:35 pm

The online Wyoming news service trib.com is reporting that up to 14 patients have presented to Casper-area hospitals with renal failure after smoking a blueberry-flavored product marketed as the synthetic cannabinoid “spice”. Officials say that the condition of three patients is life-threatening, and one person has been airlifted to Denver with complete renal shutdown.

Tracy Murphy, a Wyoming state epidemiologist, told Reuters: “At this point, we are viewing use of this drug as a potentially life-threatening situation”. Presenting symptoms have included nausea, vomiting, back pain, and movement or balance disorders.

The Wyoming State Crime Laboratory is working to identify the chemicals contained in the suspect batch of blueberry “spice”. Three people have been held on unrelated charges in association with the investigation.

TPR will keep a close eye on developments in this story. If the association between the “spice” product and clinical renal failure is confirmed, it will be important to determine what in the mixture affected renal function so drastically. In addition, it will be interesting to learn what type of renal failure occurred: Was it rhabdomyolysis? interstitial nephritis? acute tubular necrosis?

Thanks to @hrana and Justin Moore for alerting me to this story.

***NOTE: Click here for an important update to this story.***

 

6 Comments:

  1. Mary Shue Says:

    Do the synthetic cannabinoids show up on a general cannabis tox screen?

  2. Leon Says:

    Mary:

    Many of the chemicals used as synthetic cannabinoids do not shoe up on general tox screens, but can be detected on special tests.

  3. Justin Says:

    Leon, I’m one of the two individuals that brought this story to your attention, but it kind of dropped off the radar here in the local media. Did you ever get to the bottom of this one? The acute renal issues obviously made it jump out at me.

  4. Leon Says:

    Justin:

    I’ve also been curious about any follow-up to this story. I called the Wyoming Department of Public Health several weeks ago and they had nothing to add at that time, saying that the toxicology tests were still underway. I intend to call them back soon to see if any further information is available. I’m also interested to see if the renal failure that developed in some patients has persisted.

    I will certainly post anything I find out.

  5. Bill Says:

    Why is it that we still do not know exactly what chemicals were in this Blueberry Spice? It has been many months now and still we do not know. Why is that?

  6. Leon Says:

    Bill:

    I’m not sure if investigators in Wyoming ever figured out exactly what caused the renal failure in patients who had used “Blueberry Spice”. I followed up with the Wyoming Dept. of Public Health several months after the incident, and they still could not provide additional information.