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New Drug Making Club Scene Called 'Yabba'

Aired August 23, 2002 - 08:31   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: On to some medical news now, there is a new drug making the club scene. It is called "yabba." That's right, yabba. Yes, authorities say this popular pill tastes like candy, looks like candy. Ten people were indicted by the feds for smuggling thousands of pills from Thailand and Laos into the United States.
Our medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is standing by to tell us more about it, how it works, what it looks like and how many kids might be using the stuff.

Good morning, Sanjay. Is this a big deal?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This can be a big deal, no question.

It's pronounced "yarba."

ZAHN: I'm so sorry.

GUPTA: I didn't know either. It actually means crazy drug in Thai. And it actually comes from this area called the Golden Triangle, Thailand, Burma and Laos, right in there. This drug's been around for a while, though, Paula. It actually was used by Nazi Germany to keep their soldiers up, keep them awake, that is, and that's exactly what it does. It's a stimulant that keeps them awake for some time.

But the news here now that it obviously is finding its way into the United States, not just California where people were indicted. It's actually been found in parties in Michigan as well. This drug finds its way typically into rave parties, those all night parties that we hear so much about where people want to stay up all night, similar to Ecstasy in the way that it works there.

ZAHN: How many kids are getting their hands on this stuff?

GUPTA: The interesting thing is that 10 people were actually indicted in Sacramento, and they were all indicted for trying to smuggle it and distribute it. They're small pills. We got to take some pictures of them. You can look at what they look like. They sell for about 10 to 20 bucks a top.

Paula, the sort of concerning thing, these pills are marketed in ways that are flavorful. Kids are very attracted to it for that reason.

ZAHN: They look like a sweet tart. GUPTA: That's right. Sometimes they taste like it. Sometime they taste like vanilla or grape. They're actually flavored. And so the marketing, the way that these things are actually pitched to people are pitched towards kids. It's a little concerning.

ZAHN: Let's move along to another issue that is of a lot of interest to parents out there, and that is the ear thermometer versus mercury and digital thermometer debate. Frankly, I've been able to figure out how to use that ear thermometer and get a decent temperature. What are the experts telling us now?

GUPTA: Well, the ear thermometers are very popular. We have one actually right here. I can show you how that works. I'm not sure that we should, because study out of one of the British journal says that this ear thermometer actually doesn't work that well.

Let me try and hold it up here.

But basically what this thing is, is an infrared monitor, and you actually stick it in your ear like that and you actually push a button, and it just takes a couple seconds to give you a temperature reading.

Typically, they use these in hospitals and stuff a lot, especially squirmy kids, trying to get them to hold still is very difficult. In a couple of seconds, you can get a reading from this.

The concern, though, is that it does not give an accurate reading all the time, and sometimes when the precise reading is very important, it won't work as well.

ZAHN: But, Sanjay, do you know what the other concern is? You're a doctor, you know how to do it. I mean, as a parent, when you get a wiggly kid, you never know how far, how to depress it. You're worried about puncturing an eardrum.

GUPTA: Yes, you know, it's interesting that you bring this up. I think this is actually pretty easy to use. We just bought this. I read the specific directions, so I have used this before. So you just put -- you don't push. You've just got to put it in the outer canal of the eardrum and push the button. You obviously don't force it in any way.

But I think it's actually easier, to be quite honest with you, than the old standard, which is just a mercury thermometer. The concern about mercury is a real one, I think, if a kid were to bite that off or something like that, and holding a thermometer in a kid's mouth is very difficult, especially when they're squirming around.

But the gold standard and what this journal sort of concluded is actually digital thermometers that you -- the best place to take temperature reading is either the mouth, the armpit or actually digitally up the butt, and this is something that works pretty well.

ZAHN: And is there one of those three ways that's considered preferable or more accurate? GUPTA: Yes, the last way is considered the best way. That gives you a true core body temperature, and that's often the most humiliating for the kid and oftentimes you got to really get the kid to hold still. But if you're trying to get true core body temperature, which is what doctors need to know, if you're trying to establish whether they have a fever or not, that's the one to use.

ZAHN: Do you know what I always loved about pediatricians, Sanjay? The smart ones, if they're not taking ear temperatures, they have nurses do the temperature readings rectally, and then the kids hate the nurses and not the doctors. You notice that's really in pediatric practices. I guess These doctors want to build up trust with the children, and unfortunately, it's the nurses that bear the brunt of the screaming, and the kicking and all that other stuff they have to endure..

GUPTA: I always used to take off my white coat when I go to see kids. They don't think I'm a doctor then; they think I'm just some guy.

ZAHN: That's smart. You look like a clinician when you walk in that way.

Thank you. That's helpful for those us who wrestled with chronic ear infections in the house and fevers and all that other stuff. Not pleasant.




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