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Apr 27, 2016 9:27 AM

New drug to North America is 10,000 times stronger than morphine

More than three decades ago, a Canadian lab developed a way to relieve pain in a less addictive way, according to The Washington Post.

The synthetic opioid, called W-18, is the most powerful series of about 30 compounds put together at the University of Alberta. This drug was patented in the U.S. and Canada in 1984.

There were no pharmaceutical companies interested in the drug so it was never used.

Years later, a Chinese chemist found the drug and began developing it for consumers. Experts say that it is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times stronger than morphine.

Now it has come back to North America, it was found in Canada last fall when police in Calgary seized pills containing traces of W-18. More than 2.5 pounds of it was found in the home of a Florida man who was then sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

Health officials are concerned because current drug tests cannot detect the drug in a person's blood or urine which will make it difficult for doctors to help someone who may be overdosing.

The effect the drug has on humans is unknown because W-18 it has only been tested on lab mice.

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