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W-18, Possibly the Most Powerful Synthetic Opioid

May 10, 2016

It was first developed in a Canadian Laboratory more than thirty years ago. It was intended to relieve pain in a less addictive way. It was the most powerful in a series of about thirty compounds concocted at the University of Alberta in Calgary, Canada. The recipe was patented in the United States and Canada back in 1984, but no Pharmaceutical Company would ever manufacture the product.  The research was chronicled in Medical Journals but never put to use thus largely forgotten. In 2015, a Chinese Chemist found the recipe and started developing the drug for consumers in search of a cheap and legal high. One expert says it is 100 times more potent than Fentanyl and 10,000 times stronger than Morphine. Health officials are greatly concerned about this product reaching the streets. Currently, there are no tests to detect the drug in a person's blood or urine. This makes it difficult for doctors to help someone who may be overdosing. Health Canada is working to have W-18 added to its Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has not made a formal statement warning of the hazards of this drug.  However, a spokesman for the DEA has alluded to reports suggesting the drug has been found in Florida and Pennsylvania within the last six months..


"Whenever this drug starts circulating on the streets you're going to have deaths."

                                                                          ~ Sacramento-Based Forensic Chemist Brian Escamilla


Instead of selling Heroin in quarter-ounce, half-ounce quantities, you're talking about micrograms of these substances that are 100 times more potent than Fentanyl."

                                                                                                                                ~ DEA Spokesman Baer


Story by Katie Mettler of The Washington Post

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