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Men drink in a street in downtown Moscow, Friday, Nov. 3, 2006. In a country renowned for hard drinking, most people aren't surprised to hear that 42,000 people die from counterfeit alcohol in Russia each year. But recent poisonings have grabbed unusual attention in a nation where many are numb to the problem of alcoholism. The cases have dominated news reports and Cabinet meetings, fueling debate about a malaise that has helped lower Russia's average life expectancy rate to 66, 14 years shorter than the European Union average. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

Dozens of Russians were fatally poisoned after drinking bath lotion containing methanol


Dozens of people died of alcohol poisoning in the Russian city of Irkutsk after consuming a bath lotion.

By about 7:00 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, the BBC reports 41 people have died. Several people suspected of being involved in selling the lotion have been arrested, and 15 people are still in the hospital.

As Russia's economy struggles, many are turning to cheap but dangerous ways to get their alcohol fix. Drinking lotion is not unusual, but the high death toll is.

It's an outrage, and we need to put an end to this.
Dmitry Medvedev, Russian prime minister

The bath lotion contained methanol, a toxin found in antifreeze, the BBC reports. The lotion had was labelled as not being fit for human consumption.

The alcohol is metabolized in the body to form formaldehyde and other poisons that can result in blindness, coma, and death. The drinkers were between 35 and 50, and were not drinking together.'It's an outrage'

Medicine and perfumes account for a fifth of all alcohol drunk in Russia, the BBC reports.

Here's a look at the lotion.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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