A proposed class action lawsuit has been launched by the government of British Columbia against 40 defendants. These include dozens of pharmaceutical companies, who are alleged to have falsely claimed in their marketing campaigns that opioids are less addictive than other pain relief medications. The suit says these false claims helped fuel an opioid overdose crisis that has claimed thousands of lives across the country.
The suit is being brought on behalf of federal, provincial and territorial governments and agencies that have borne the health care, pharmaceutical and treatment costs stemming from opioid use since 1996, which is when Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin in Canada. The Financial Post says the suit is the first of its kind in Canada.
Besides Purdue and other drug makers, the lawsuit also names pharmacies, including Shoppers Drug Mart and its parent Loblaw Companies. The lawsuit says they should have known that the quantities of opioids they were distributing were larger than a legitimate market would have accounted for.
While 4000 Canadians died of apparent opioid overdoses in 2017, BC was hardest hit with 1399 deaths, a huge increase from the 974 deaths in 2016.
Image: Health Canada