CDC investigating death of Colorado patient after possibly dangerous sedative

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating after a Colorado patient died while receiving a potentially dangerous sedative.

After tests showed an autopsy earlier this month confirmed the death of an elderly Colorado patient who was receiving the anesthetic, Benzedrine, the CDC and the state health department began investigating to determine the drug’s role in his death.

CDC spokesman Pasqual Whitaker said there is no indication that the drug was the cause of death, but the toxicology results have still not been released. Still, Whitaker said CDC is investigating Benzedrine’s possible impact.

“CDC is working with the Colorado health department to investigate a death reported in Colorado state emergency rooms from late December to early February 2019,” Whitaker said. “CDC is aware of issues surrounding Benzedrine and its use in the U.S.

“CDC recommends that Benzedrine be used at low dosages or under approved conditions by qualified personnel to limit its use,” Whitaker said.

The substance was introduced to the U.S. market in the 1960s as an amphetamine-like anesthetic called zaleplon. But in recent years, as it has been used increasingly to sedate elderly patients with weakened immune systems, it has raised alarms among doctors who worry that it’s too powerful and poses a danger to their patients. It is also one of the ingredients of an anesthetic used to treat seizures.

In 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that benzedrine may pose risks, including increased agitation and difficulty breathing or sleep, even after it has been reduced to low dosages.

Subsequently, an advocacy group called Take Care DC sought to raise awareness of drug safety and stop usage of the anesthetic in the District of Columbia, saying that officials often “simply kick the can down the road and legalize the unknown dangers without doing anything about it.”

This article was written by Fred Barbash from The Washington Post and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]

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