According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, W-18 is one of 32 compounds, named W-1 to W-32, that are a class of opioids discovered at the University of Alberta in 1982. These compounds have also been referred to as Opioid Research Chemicals, or Opioid RCs.
1-(4-Nitrophenylethyl)piperidylidene-2-(4-chlorophenyl)sulfonamide (W-18) is a potent mu-opioid receptor agonist with a distinctive chemical structure which is not closely related to other established families of opioid drugs, however, is similar to the action of most opioids like morphine or fentanyl.
The W-18 opioid drug is reported to be up to 100 times stronger than fentanyl, and up to 10,000 times stronger than morphine.
W-18 is not currently regulated in the US by the Controlled Substances Act. W-18 is also not currently regulated under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act in Canada and can be manufactured and bought freely, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
W-18 comes in powder form and likely derives from Chinese labs where little-known drugs and analogs of known drugs are mass-produced and sold online.
W-18 in the Canadian Media
The following is paraphrased from an article published on GlobalNews.ca:
Recent warnings about W-18 have risen after a drastic increase in fentanyl deaths that ignited suspicions from law enforcement and health agencies throughout Canada. Alberta Health said there were 213 fatal fentanyl overdoses in 2015, up from 120 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014. There were only six deaths reported in 2011.
During the entire year of 2015, about 21,000 blue-green pills (marketed as fentanyl and looks like fake OxyContin) were seized in Alberta. During a search warrant of a home in Rocky View County in southern Alberta in August 2015, 110 of these pills were seized and sent off for analysis to Health Canada.
Results were returned to Calgary Police Service in mid-December, and results confirmed three of the pills contained W-18. Staff Sgt. Schiavetta says W-18, like fentanyl, is being produced in China with a majority of the drugs coming through ports in B.C.
W-18 for Recreational Use
I actually read threads on forums where people were purchasing W-18 powder online and trying it out to get high. The overdose potential is extremely high, though I read posts where people were diluting the compound to be safer. One user stated it felt like a strong oxycodone high, and another experimenter said it worked well for pain relief, but he didn’t get the euphoric effect, and thus was disappointed in W-18 for recreational use.
If you ask me, this is VERY DANGEROUS…playing with more than fire here! However, at least if a person knows what they are consuming and dilutes it, they could live to tell about it. For the unfortunate individuals that have died in Canada thinking they were taking fentanyl, they didn’t stand much of a chance against W-18.
Here are some questions I have:
- Is there any way to effectively deal with these deadly pills (sold as fentanyl but containing W-18) being smuggled into North America from China?
- Are these pills already in the US, but we just haven’t detected them yet?
- As of January 26th, 2016, W-18 became illegal in Sweden. Will other countries follow their lead?
- If what the experimenter above stated is true (W-18 works for pain relief without euphoria), will there be research trials in the future, which try to determine if it should be a new prescription pain reliever, with dosages only containing micrograms?
- Since W-18 is not regulated in the US, will there be a surge of online vendors selling this drug? I did some digging, and I already found a few websites that sell W-18 (no, I’m not going to provide links to them.)
My Take on W-18
This drug is very new to me and many others, so I don’t claim to know everything or even a lot about this compound. But so far, from what I learned about W-18 this is my current take on it: Since there have been no human studies on it, even if it was back in the day and I was going through acute opioid withdrawal, I honestly don’t think I would use W-18 powder even if someone put it right in front of me.
IT’S UP TO 100 TIMES MORE POWERFUL THAN FENTANYL AND UP TO 10,000 TIMES MORE POWERFUL THAN MORPHINE!!! I’m not an elephant, and after all, I would rather be sick with withdrawal symptoms than six feet under.