A new method of producing methamphetamine called “shake and bake” is leading to an influx of burn victims in the nation’s hospitals, the Associated Press reports.
A person making meth using this technique combines raw, unstable ingredients in a 2-liter soda bottle. If the cap is removed too soon or the plastic is accidentally punctured, the bottle can explode, causing serious damage or even death.
Up to one-third of patients in some burn units were injured while making meth, according to an AP survey. Most did not have health insurance. Treating meth-related burns costs an average of $130,000 per patient—60 percent more than other burn patients.
The costs of meth-related burns are overwhelming some hospitals, and have contributed to the closure of some burn units, the article notes. At least seven burn units have closed in the last six years, in part due to treatment of uninsured patients, including patients with meth-related burns.
Burning meth labs are nothing new. But in the past, people usually were able to escape. With the new shake and bake method, a person making meth holds the bottle close to the face, causing burns if there is an explosion.
Shake and bake is popular because it requires less of the cold medicine ingredient pseudoephedrine than the older method. It also takes less time to make, is less expensive, and is easy to hide in a backpack.
Incidents related to meth production, including seizures of labs, dumpsites or chemical and glassware, increased to 11,239 in 2010, after falling to 6,095 in 2007, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.