Medical use for cocaine?
Besides being an extremely addictive and dangerous narcotic, cocaine has some medicinal use. Cocaine has been used as a local anesthetic for eye and nasal surgery. Besides being an anesthetic, it also is a potent vasoconstrictor (constricts the blood vessels around the area where injected [eye or nose]). The vasoconstriction helps reduce bleeding and the systemic circulation of cocaine (into the heart, specifically).
More recently, the use of cocaine as an anesthetic for eye and nasal surgery has diminished, and has been replaced by other local anesthetics. These newer (and safer) local anesthetics have to be combined with a vasoconstrictor in order to do the same effect as cocaine.
Pharmaceutical grade cocaine is available in a 4% solution for injection. Studies comparing cocaine to other local anesthetics most often reveal that newer local anesthetics are more effective in reducing pain during surgeries and safer. It is generally accepted by the medical community that the use of cocaine for medical procedures should be limited. However, the need for it to be available is still there.