Nice Guy, also known as the “designer drug,” is a popular and dangerous drug in Israel. Researchers at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa have discovered a new method to diagnose victims of its potentially lethal poisoning through CT imaging, allowing for quick identification and life-saving treatment.
The research findings have been published in the medical journal European Radiology.
Over a period of nine months between 2021 and 2022, hospitals in northern Israel treated nearly 100 patients who experienced seizures due to severe poisoning from the synthetic marijuana substitute Nice Guy.
The dangers of Nice Guy, the synthetic marijuana drug
Nice Guy is typically consumed through smoking, and in some cases, through injection or inhalation. The substance is often found in packages containing herbs sprayed with rat poison.
Dr. Nitai Bar, head of the research team at Rambam Health Care Campus’s Medical Imaging Department, explains that the mechanism of action of the toxic substances in Nice Guy is similar to traditional blood thinners. However, unlike drugs that remain in the body for several days, the poison remains active in the blood for weeks.
Late diagnosis poses a significant challenge in treating victims, Bar explained.
In their study, Bar and his colleagues reviewed imaging tests conducted on 48 patients who had been poisoned by the substance and treated at Rambam Hospital. They successfully identified characteristic signs of poisoning, even in patients who did not exhibit typical symptoms such as blood in their urine.
“Most users of Nice Guy displayed kidney leakage, indicating damage to the breakdown mechanism, affecting approximately 90% of patients,” Bar said. “These subtle signs could easily be missed without awareness of their significance.”
Bar emphasizes the importance of early detection, as these findings can be observed through routine imaging tests carried out in cases of suspected kidney stones. Recognizing the signs promptly enables healthcare professionals to quickly identify affected individuals and provide them with the appropriate life-saving treatment.