Ottawa (AFP) - Canada has added a powerful synthetic opioid police describe as 10,000 times stronger than morphine to its list of controlled substances, the health ministry announced Wednesday.
The ban of W-18 follows the first reported overdose death from the drug in Canada last month. It makes the production, possession and trafficking of W-18 illegal.
"Evidence shows that W-18 has been used recreationally in Europe and Canada over the past two years," Health Canada said in a statement.
"It has been found in samples seized by Canadian law enforcement that were made to appear like legitimate prescription tablets, such as oxycodone."
Developed in the 1980s as a potential pain reliever, W-18 was never marketed commercially and has no legitimate use, the ministry said.
The drug can cause serious injury and death if abused.
A 35-year-old man who overdosed in March had taken W-18 mixed with heroin and other narcotics, the authorities confirmed last month.
In April, Canadian police announced the seizure of four kilograms of W-18 in Edmonton, Alberta.
Pills containing the opioid turned up a month later in a Kelowna, British Columbia drug bust.