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Orinda, California—16-year-old Joseph Loudon died on May 23 during a house party. Investigators were not surprised to find alcohol in his blood, but were shocked to find high levels of papaverine, the active ingredient in most erectile dysfunction medications, in his system.

Police are investigating whether or not the boy took the drug purposely, or if other partygoers slipped it into the boy’s drink as a prank. The combination of papaverine and the alcohol caused Loudon to throw up and he subsequently choked to death on his own vomit, according to the Contra Costa County coroner.

Papaverine is a vasodilator, which makes blood vessels bigger by relaxing the muscles surrounding them. As is common knowledge, older males, not teenagers, commonly use erectile dysfunction medications. Therefore, those who do die as a result of taking papaverine-containing drugs, usually die because they were taking other drugs that interacted negatively with the erectile dysfunction medication. Neither the boy’s mother or father claimed to have had erectile dysfunction medication in either of their homes. However, police have arrested three people suspected of furnishing alcohol or fake ID cards to minors at the party.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Steve Lombardi

    David: As always you write an interesting and informative post. My first thought was, how did this young man get ED medication? And then I thought about my own post about the house fire in Sioux City, Iowa. The advice I offered on that post is just as relevant on this post. Parents need to lock up their prescription medicines. Here is the title and link to my post. In the instance of young Mr. Loudon it doesn’t appear his parents medicine cabinet was the cache, a fact that may lead to criminal charges against the supplier.

    Sioux City, Iowa house fire death a lesson in household safety, July 23, 2009

    ”Adults need to be smart about things like matches, drugs in cabinets, household cleaning products and poisons being stored in a way that limits accessibility to young children. With children the rules haven’t changed in centuries: simply expect the unexpected.”

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