Health

The Drug That's 10,000 Times More Powerful Than Morphine

| by John Freund

A new drug has reportedly hit the streets, and this one packs a punch.  

Authorities in the U.S. said pills being sold as Fentanyl - fake versions of oxycodone - are being laced with W-18, a compound known to be 10,000 times as powerful as morphine and 200 times as powerful as standard heroin.  

The pills were first discovered in Calgary, Canada, in August 2014 and had likely made their way to North America via Chinese supply routes, according to Vice News.

"We believe W-18 would be coming from China," a spokesman from the Calgary Police Service Drug Unit said. "Certainly organized crime is behind the importation of Fentanyl, and I would make the connection that W-18 would be the same."

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Due to the high potency of W-18, Calgary officials are worried that the pills might lead to a spike in overdose deaths, a concern that U.S. officials now share, given that the drug has made its way over the border, Breitbart News notes.

W-18 is not itself a newly-discovered drug; it was invented over 30 years ago as a substitute for morphine. However, it was deemed too powerful at the time and was never put to use in the medical field.  But now, dealers have rediscovered its potent effect and are reportedly lacing pills of Fentanyl with the highly-addictive compound.  

Heroin alone resulted in the deaths of over 10,000 people in the United States in 2014, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  Given that W-18 is 200 times as powerful, there is a high likelihood of an increase in overdose deaths should the drug become as common as street heroin.  

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama tried to link the recent influx of the drug to the immigration issue, saying that the increased supply of cheap heroin is due to a "lack of enforcement at the border," Breitbart News reports. 

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However, so far all of the drug's supply routes have been linked to Canada by way of China. There has yet to be a positive identification of the drug's import via the southern border of the United States. Nonetheless, Sessions maintained that the border issue is "a big part of this." 

Sources: Breitbart News, Vice, NIH / Photo Credit: Calgary Police/Twitter via Breitbart News

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