Police on alert for W-18, drug more powerful than fentanyl

File: Fentanyl pills seized by RCMP. RCMP Handout

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.

READ MORE: Edmonton police make considerable fentanyl bust, seize $435,000

W-18 is believed to be 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, which is 100 times more powerful than morphine.

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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.

READ MORE: Alberta Health Minister pleased fentanyl antidote may soon be prescription-free

AHS said there were 272 overdose deaths involving fentanyl in Alberta in 2015, up from 120 in 2014.

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