Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Chinese W-18 not an opioid, confirms U.S. study

W-18 not an opioid, confirms U.S. study

Local researcher says the media hype around W-18 scared a lot of people

Fentanyl is said to have been combined with W-18.
Fentanyl is said to have been combined with W-18.
A Calgary researcher is pleased with a new study that debunks the myth that W-18 is what Health Canada calls an extremely powerful “synthetic opioid” that’s “100 times stronger than fentanyl.”

On Sunday, research out of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill found that W-18 didn’t trigger all opioid receptors, meaning it isn’t an opioid.

For Stephanie Borgland, an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of Calgary, the findings are welcome among the misinformation that’s been spread through the media.

“There is a lot of hype around W-18 and it scared a lot of people,” she said. “It turned out (past claims) were not true. It was based on a real lack of information from the patent, so I’m happy to see the correct information out.”

Police and health officials have also said W-18 is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. And earlier this year, Calgary police said they linked one death to W-18 and an opioid that’s stronger than fentanyl, though the province’s chief toxicologist couldn’t confirm which drug caused the death.

The study also found that W-18 also had no “allosteric” activity when combined with an “endogenous” opioid, meaning W-18 is not going to change how morphine or heroin will affect someone, Borgland said.

However, the study found the drug could give you an arrhythmia, which is when your heart beats in a strange way.

“That’s one of the potential toxicities of this drug,” she said. “In my opinion, from this study, it’s still not really clear what the toxicity is due to, so we don’t know if people taking W-18 with fentanyl are dying because they’re having a fentanyl overdose or if it’s due to some other complication with the drug.

“But whatever that complication is, it’s not related to opioid effects.”

The Office of the Medical Examiner said earlier this year that it’s continuing to develop a test to identify small amounts of W-18, despite its virtual untraceability.

W-18 was developed in a University of Alberta laboratory and has been shipped to Alberta from illicit Chinese labs, which have been using the W-18 blueprint created by researches.