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Street Drug, 10,000 times more potent than MORPHINE finding its way to the markets


Street Drug, 10,000 times more potent than MORPHINE finding its way to the markets

Reports have been flashing of a powerful drug, called W-18 is slowly finding its way to the streets of various parts of the world. The key feature of this drug, is that it appears to be 10,000 times more effective that morphine

W-18, reportedly a more effective but less addictive painkiller ,first emerged in  the research labs at the University of Alberta, Canada three decades ago to some; to  others an opiate cooked in the labs of china, before being sold online; claimed to be 10,000 times more powerful than morphine. W-18  has just been spotted in the US and Australia. Though  its yet to be given an  illegal drug license in the US.

Still under cover, wherever & whenever uncovered, this fascinating synthetic opiate painkiller is untraceable in a person’s blood or urine, as the medical world has still to come up with tests to trace the drug in the human body.

In 1984, the W_18 formula  was patented in the US and Canada; however it did not find any takers in the pharmaceutical world, due to its  maddening potency, forcing it into anonymity reports the Washington post.

“Whenever this drug starts circulating on the streets you’re going to have deaths,” Sacramento-based forensic chemist Brian Escamilla told the Calgary Sun. A fact that could be substantiated in a statement made by a graduate student, who once worked on the drug and revealed that mice when injected with W-18 stood up for a minute, only to fall unconscious for five days. On regaining consciousness they were found to be hungry and thirsty, beyond which quite themselves, as reported to David Kroll, Forbes.

Chemists in China  also seem to have laid hands on it, however they seem to have transformed this synthetic opiate from a powerful medical treatment drug  to a cheap, toxic, and not-yet-illegal high.

Compared to Fentanyl- the drug that killed 655 people in Canada between 2009-2014,  W-18 is claimed to be 100 times more potent. Connecting fentanyl to the world of crime and seemingly emerging 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.”

Sweden was the first country to grant  W-18 an illegal status; Canada and Australia seem to be pondering still.

Katie Mettler from The Washington Post reported ,”Then more than 1.1 kilograms of W-18 was discovered in the home of a Florida man, who was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after he plead guilty to smuggling fentanyl from China. He faced no charges for possessing the W-18, however, because it’s not yet illegal in the US.”

Reports of W-18 resurfacing are  filtering from parts of the world, all over again. The first being in 2015 in Canada , when the  police seized 110 pills in a drug raid, some of which contained the substance.

Last week, Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service reported seizure of  4 kilograms of a chemical powder  in a fentanyl investigation in December 2015, which turned out to be the W-18 drug.”

A matter of concern remains, that pharma companies have taken little interest in this potent painkiller saying “only tested in mice.”

At present , nobody knows  what W-18 does to humans; how addictive or  carrying what  kind of side effects; while way ahead in terms of potency in comparison to other tested drugs , the fact remains that there is no scientific data on W-18 since the 80’s.

“We have no data on absorption, distribution, metabolism, or excretion of the substance. We do not know on what specific receptors W-18 acts. We know nothing about receptor binding affinities. We know nothing of the acute effects of the substance,”  reports toxicologist-run blog, Dose Makes The Poison.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald the Australians though conscious of its presence on the island, are not taking it seriously, as they know that it is not being picked off the streets. Though  citizens have the freedom to order the opiate, they  are turning away to  tried and tested opiates,  fearing  the drugs potency.

“It’s certainly available for Australian consumers to order but we’ve never really seen a big uptake of any of the new opioids in Australia, with consumers seeming to prefer the more traditional licit and illicit opioids,” said NDARC research officer Joe Van Buskirk,

There is information on  W-18  being equated  with heroin and cocaine and being distributed in Philadelphia; however one finds  the government  still thinking on how to handle this potent painkiller.

 

 

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Meghna Singhania
Meghna A Singhania is the founder and Editor-in-Chief at Medical Dialogues. An Economics graduate from Delhi University and a post graduate from London School of Economics and Political Science, her key research interest lies in health economics, and policy making in health and medical sector in the country. She can be contacted at meghna@medicaldialogues.in. Contact no. 011-43720751
Source: with inputs

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