By now you probably have heard that krokodil, a nasty homemade version of the narcotic painkiller desomorphine, is starting to catch on in the United States. Having eaten its way through the flesh of myriad Russian opiate addicts, the caustic concoction—notorious for the ghastly side effects caused by its corrosive contaminants, including abscesses and gangrene—is reportedly burning its way through Arizona, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. "The monster has crossed the ocean," Time declared last month.
Like most monster stories, says Jacob Sullum in his latest Forbes column, this one is not true. Yet it will not die, perpetuating itself by encouraging reckless claims that become the basis for the next round of sensational coverage.