Friday, May 20, 2016

W-18 Associated Fatality Reported in Calgary

It was reported today in the Calgary Herald that a 35 year old man was found deceased at a Calgary hotel on March 7, 2016. The death was believed to be drug-related at the time. Law enforcement found drugs, paraphernalia, and a naloxone kit (albeit unusued) on the scene.

The Herald reports that the individual had "heroin, W-18, and 3-methylfentanyl" in his system when he died.

The article gives some "fast facts on W-18". They include:

"The drug is said by police  to be 100 times more potent than fentanyl."

My thoughts?

First, I'm glad I'm not a forensic pathologist. And cause and manner of death is obviously the pathologist's responsibility. It is her call to make.

Second, from a toxicology perspective, I'd be more focused on 3-methylfentanyl (known potent mu opioid receptor agonist) and heroin (prodrug for 6-acetylmorphine and morphine) than the W-18 (at this point). Especially considering what we know about W-18 - that the 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl trope comes from a mouse model writhing assay - and what we officially unofficially know about W-18 - not an opioid receptor agonist.

Interesting article. Still we should be very, very careful on how we talk about W-18. Hysteria and hyperbole is not the way to go. Talk about what we do know. Talk about what we do not know. But misrepresenting facts in not ok. The headline of the article only includes W-18. That is misrepresenting the situation at hand. This is a death that was associated with all three compounds.


Medical examiner confirms city's first fatal W-18 overdose


  1. Living in Calgary and drugs being an interest of mine (academically speaking, bit of a drug nerd). When the fentynl crisis began it annoyed me that they did not differentiate bewtween the fentynl analogues. I was not surprised to see w-18 and other opioid research chemicals in the local market as they have been available for several years on various rc websites both domestic and Chinese. I am surprised that mt-45 has not appeared yet.

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