A B.C.-led lawsuit against Purdue Pharma Canada has settled for $150 million over the company’s contribution to the opioid crisis.
The province launched the lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company in 2018 on behalf of all Canadian governments, arguing Purdue Pharma’s deceptive marketing and sales techniques contributed to large-scale addiction and death and billions in related health care costs.
The American-based company is now notorious for its release of an opioid called OxyContin in 1996, which is claimed was far less addictive than other opioids being used to treat chronic pain at the time. Purdue marketed their pill as something that could be used long-term for issues like back pain, severe headaches and arthritis.
In B.C.’s 2018 notice of civil claim, it says Purdue put $14 million a year in Canada alone into promoting OxyContin as the only safe solution to pain. The pills, it was later found, were in fact highly addictive. They quickly made their way onto the black market, impacting those who used them and their families across North America.
Speaking Wednesday (June 29), B.C. Attorney General David Eby said the settlement will be divided between provinces and territories depending on the amount of health care costs they have incurred.
Eby said while the $150 million agreed upon comes nowhere close to the billions in health care costs estimated to be related in Canada, the settlement avoided the risk of being grouped into a number of unsecured creditor claims in the United States where the total amount available is $15 million.
The money will not go to the families who have lost loved ones to the opioid crisis.
Eby said the settlement represents the start of action the province and Canada is taking to hold pharmaceutical companies, as well as their distributors and consultants, accountable.
In addition to the Purdue Pharma settlement, B.C. is still waiting to certify its class-action lawsuit in the B.C. Supreme Court against more than 40 manufacturers, distributors and consultants. This is scheduled for fall 2023.
More to come.
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