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Erectile Drug Led to Teen's Death

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AOL: After 16-year-old Joseph Loudon died after a house party on May 23, investigators were not surprised to find alcohol in his blood. What did surprise them was high levels of papaverine -- a prescription medication used to treat erectile dysfunction.

Police are still trying to determine whether the teen was taking the drug deliberately or had it slipped to him in a drink, perhaps as a prank, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In any case, the combination of the alcohol and papaverine caused Loudon to throw up. He subsequently choked to death on his own vomit, according to findings by Contra Costa County coroner.

The cause of death has mystified both the boy's parents and law-enforcement officials, the Chronicle said.

"That was the first we heard of this drug," Orinda Police Chief Bill French told the newspaper. He added that if any recreational use for papaverine exists, "we're unaware of it."

His puzzlement was echoed by the boy's father. "I have no idea how Joe might have obtained the drug or why it was in his system," said Bill Loudon. "It is not a drug that was in either my house or that of his mother."

Papaverine is a vasodilator, which makes blood vessels bigger by relaxing the muscles surrounding them.

But like most such medications, it is primarily consumed by adults, not teenagers. "Certainly you wouldn't think a 16-year-old would need to take any medication for erectile dysfunction," Dr. Mark Litwin, a professor of health services and urology at UCLA, told the Chronicle. More often these medications are found "in older young adults who are using other drugs that might compromise erection."

Police have arrested three people suspected of furnishing alcohol or fake ID cards to minors at the party, the Chronicle said.

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