CDN: Drug bust leads to discovery of synthetic opioid

KitchenerToday –

Health Canada said Metonitazene is a synthetic opioid, belonging to the benzimidazole class of substances.

Police say it’s new to Waterloo Region

A word of warning from Waterloo Regional Police.

Last week, police announced that multiple drugs were seized in February, and Health Canada determined they contained Metonitazene.

Police said the substance is new to Waterloo Region. A spokesperson confirmed it was found in drugs including heroin and fentanyl.

Health Canada said Metonitazene is a synthetic opioid, belonging to the benzimidazole class of substances.

“This substance is controlled under item 13 of Schedule I of the CDSA and was developed by a Swiss pharmaceutical company in 1957,” said a Media Relations Officer in an e-mail statement. “It was first identified by Canadian law enforcement in 2020.”

According to Health Canada, “Metonitazene was originally investigated in a clinical trial as a potential analgesic substance. As far as Health Canada is aware, pharmaceutical development was not continued.”

They added the substance was found to be ‘significantly more potent than morphine’ and led to side effects including respiratory depression and failure.

Health Canada said Metonitazene was identified by its Drug Analysis Service for the first time in January of 2021, after a substance from Ontario was submitted for analysis.

Since then, the substance has been identified in a total of six samples: five from Ontario, and one from Alberta.

On Monday, an update to Waterloo Region’s overdose monitoring data showed 36 suspected overdose-related deaths so far this year. That’s an increase of 10 from the previous update on April 7.

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