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Powerful street drug W-18 now banned in Canada

Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated police handout photo.
Fentanyl pills are shown in an undated police handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO

OTTAWA – Health Canada is banning the powerful street drug W-18, which it says can be 100 times more potent than fentanyl.

The synthetic opioid is being added to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and classed as a restricted drug under federal regulations.

That means production, possession, importation or exportation and trafficking of the drug are now illegal. The department says W-18 has been used recreationally in Europe and Canada over the last two years.

READ MORE: Health Canada moving quickly to regulate dangerous opioid drug W-18

It says Canadian police have seized samples that were made to look like legitimate prescription tablets, such as oxycodone.

The W-18 compound was developed in the 1980s as a potential pain reliever, but it was never marketed commercially and has no legitimate use, authorities say.

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WATCH: Calgary records first W-18 related death

Calgary records first W-18 related death
Calgary records first W-18 related death

 

“Synthetic, street-level opioids are extremely dangerous since they are often mixed with or disguised as other drugs prone to abuse, such as oxycodone or heroin,” the department said in a news release.

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“When abused, they can cause serious injury and death.”

READ MORE: What we know about W-18, a drug ‘100 times more powerful than fentanyl’

Health Minister Jane Philpott welcomed the ban.

“Substances like W-18 are dangerous and have a significant negative impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” she said in a statement.

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