W-18: Deadly street drug 100 times stronger than fentanyl

published on February 17, 2016 by Karin Larsen in CBC News

‘It’s not in a drug dealer’s interest to be killing everyone who is buying these drugs’

On the heels of hundreds of overdose deaths related to fentanyl, authorities are now warning the public about a new and extremely lethal drug that’s hit the streets in Western Canada.

W-18 is a synthetic opioid 10,000 more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

Late last month, police in Calgary put out a warning after tests found W-18 in three pills seized in a drug bust.

‘There’s more out there’

“I can guarantee you there’s got to be more out there,” said Sgt. Jason Walker. “We just haven’t seen it yet.”

Dr. Evan Wood, Vancouver Coastal Health director for addiction services, says the fact that just three pills containing W-18 were discovered is “interesting.”

“It’s not in a drug dealer’s interest to be killing everyone who is buying these drugs,” Wood told CBC News. “The danger is making something so potent that a small difference in the mass or volume is the difference between being toxic or producing the desired effect in users.”

“If someone is making these counterfeit pills in a basement, and a small amount spills over or is improperly measured, that can be the difference,” he said.

Wood likens the W-18 situation to how opium smoking transformed into the heroin trade as a more concentrated form of the drug was developed to allow for easier smuggling across international borders.

“It’s exactly the same narrative that we’re having today.” he said.

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