Tighter controls announced for deadly drug W-18

The federal government moved Wednesday to add the synthetic opioid W-18 to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Restricted Drugs section of the Food and Drug Regulations.

Death of 35-year-old Calgary man in March the first in Alberta linked to the drug

The federal government is moving to make the possession, production or sale of W-18 illegal. (Smallorder)

The federal government moved Wednesday to add the synthetic opioid W-18 to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Restricted Drugs section of the Food and Drug Regulations.

That will make production, possession, importation or exportation and trafficking of the deadly drug illegal.

"Substances like W-18 are dangerous and have a significant negative impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our society," said federal Health Minister Jane Philpott.

"I am pleased with the swift action that Health Canada has taken to regulate this substance."

Evidence shows that W-18 has been used recreationally in Europe and Canada over the past two years. It has also been found in samples seized by Canadian law enforcement made to appear like legitimate prescription tablets, like oxycodone.

The overdose death of a 35-year-old Calgary man in March was the first in the province linked to W-18.

Considered extremely dangerous, W-18 can be 100 times stronger than Fentanyl, which has been linked to dozens of deaths across the country in recent years.

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

Alberta's first fatal overdose linked to W-18 was confirmed in Calgary. 0:43