Doctors express concern over synthetic drug that can induce 'excited delirium'

New designer drugs, made to bypass standing legislation that outlaw their original forms, are hitting the market, raising concern among U.S. physicians. Among them are shatter, a highly concentrated form of marijuana legal in Colorado; fentanyl, a stimulant up to 50 times stronger than heroin; and, at the forefront of many public health officials' minds, "Flakka," a tweaked version of bath salts that, in some cases, can cause heart palpitations and aggressive, violent behavior.

Following 2012 federal legislation that banned some varieties of bath salts, manufacturers have altered the chemical makeup of the amphetamine-like drug to concoct this stronger, more highly addictive and still-legal form of the drug, sold in Florida as Flakka but in other parts of the United States as "Gravel." "Flakka" is derived from the Spanish word "flaca," meaning "skinny," and in Hispanic cultures is generally thought to refer to a beautiful, elegantly thin woman.

>>VIDEO: Dangerous new drug linked to bizarre behavior

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in the United States, synthetic cathinones, which encompasses Flakka and bath salts, rose from 14,239 to 16,500 annual cases from 2012 to 2013, the most recent data available.

Some reports say Flakka can be traced to China, but its origin hasn't been confirmed. In addition to Florida, law enforcement agencies have reported Flakka cases in Ohio and Texas.

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