EDMONTON – A spokesperson for ALERT says it may only be a matter of time before a drug that is believed to be 100 times more powerful than fentanyl arrives in Edmonton.
Mike Tucker, communications manager for ALERT, said no cases of the drug W-18 have been reported in Edmonton yet but it is a huge concern.
While Tucker cannot definitively say that W-18 will appear in Edmonton, he said it would not be surprising to see drugs related to fentanyl emerge in the city.
In late January, Calgary police recorded one incident involving W-18. Police there said an unknown drug seized by officers had been sent to a lab for tests and when they got the results back, investigators discovered the drug was W-18.
W-18 is believed to be 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, which is 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Tucker said the drug is packaged the same way as fentanyl and is being sold in the same manner. He calls W-18 a derivative of fentanyl.
“It is not surprising. Fentanyl is a pretty new drug and it’s a synthetic opoid. It doesn’t surprise me to see more similar-type drugs, but given its strength and potential, it’s very concerning,” he said.
Tucker said he suspects that drug dealers may not even be aware they are selling W-18. He said information suggests fentanyl powders are being imported from China and he would guess W-18 is also coming from overseas.
On Tuesday, AHS announced it will be expanding access to take-home naloxone kits. Naloxone is a drug that can temporarily reverse a fentanyl overdose.
AHS said there were 272 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in Alberta in 2015, up from 120 in 2014.