This is W-18

There’s a new drug making the rounds—it’s thousands of times more powerful than morphine, it’s currently untraceable in blood and urine (because there are no tests for it), and because it’s so new, it’s not even illegal yet.

Meet W-18—theorized to be a synthetic opiate, similar to heroin, but significantly stronger. Because of this, experts are already warning the public about the potential deaths that this drug will cause once it hits the streets.

The drug was originally developed as a possible alternative to more addictive painkillers, but because of how potent it actually turned out to be, it failed to get support from pharmaceutical companies.

Allegedly, this current form of the drug was developed after a Chinese chemist got ahold of the drug and, instead of further developing its medical potential, used it to offer a toxic (but cheap) high.

Fentanyl pills seized. Image Credit: Jim Wells/ Postmedia Network

Reemergence

As early as 2015, W-18s were detected in Canada. At this time, authorities seized 110 pills, with some containing various traces of the substance.

“We believe W-18 would be coming from China,” Martin Schiavetta, a staff sergeant with the Calgary Police Service Drug Unit, told VICE. “Certainly organised crime is behind the importation of fentanyl, and I would make the connection that W-18 would be the same.”

Indeed, W-18 is being compared to Fentanyl, a new opiate that has already been linked to over six hundred deaths in Canada. Given that W-18 is a hundred times more powerful than the aforementioned, there’s certainly more reason to worry about it. In addition, because of lack of support from pharmaceutical companies, the drug has only ever been tested on mice; so no one really knows how it will affect humans or how addictive is really is, neither do scientists know the kind of side effects it will cause.

Sweden has already made the drug illegal in January 2016, but the US, Canada and Australia (countries where the drug has been detected) are still trying to figure out how they can deal with it.


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