Fox Chapel man’s death linked to anti-diarrheal overdose
A Fox Chapel man found dead in his home in November died from an overdose of an anti-diarrhea medication that can be used to mimic the high of opioids, medical examiner records show.
Arjun Patel, 29, was pronounced dead Nov. 8. A notice from the Allegheny County Medical Examiner earlier this week lists Patel’s cause of death as loperamide poisoning.
Loperamide, a drug with opioid-like side effects, is found in Imodium AD — a medication used to treat short-term bouts of diarrhea. High doses of the drug can create feelings of exhilaration akin to those brought on by other opioids.
Dr. Mike Lynch, an emergency room doctor and toxicologist with the Pittsburgh Poison Center at UPMC, said he has seen a significant increase in toxic doses of loperamide — between 2015 and 2017, the center saw a 167-percent increase in calls relating to the drug.
In January, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to place restrictions on Imodium packaging , recommending that it be “limited to eight 2-milligram capsules in blister packaging.”
The call for packaging limitations came months after Patel’s death.
Loperamide is sometimes referred to as “poor man’s methadone,” according to the Washington Post.
“When used at extremely high and dangerous doses, it’s seen by those suffering from opioid addiction as a potential alternative to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms or to achieve the euphoric effects of opioid use,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer.