The Quebec government intends to table a bill in the coming days to allow it to join the class action brought by British Columbia against more than 40 pharmaceutical companies which are accused of having trivialized the effects harmful effects of opioids.
The information was confirmed to The Canadian Press by a source familiar with the matter.
In 2018, British Columbia launched a class action against 40 pharmaceutical companies on behalf of the federal government, provinces and territories. British Columbia passed the “Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act” to support his appeal. This law stipulates that the province can take collective action on behalf of the federal and provincial governments.
With the exception of Quebec, Yukon and Nunavut, the majority of Canadian provinces have laws similar to that of British Columbia. These laws allow their government to be included in the collective action launched by another province. Hence the desire of the Quebec government to have such a law adopted.
“Although the class action was brought by British Columbia on behalf of the federal government and the provincial and territorial governments, the adoption of a law similar to that taken by British Columbia makes it possible in particular to promote the application by the court of legal regimes adapted to the situation and similar for all,” indicates the spokesperson for the Quebec Ministry of Health, Marie-Claude Lacasse, in an email to The Canadian Press.
$85 billion claimed
British Columbia alleges that manufacturers made false representations about the addictiveness of opioids. In particular, they allegedly failed to mention the side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
Distributors are also blamed for allowing the market to be flooded with opioids, contributing to the crisis currently being experienced across the country.
Thus, $85 billion is claimed. We want to obtain these amounts to offset the health care costs associated with the crisis.
An out-of-court settlement of $150 million was reached between the company Purdue Pharma Canada and all governments in June 2022.
” Last year [juillet 2022 à juin 2023], 525 deaths were linked to suspected opioid or other drug poisoning. Plus, that’s without counting the many other damages linked to the opioid crisis [risques à la santé et hospitalisations, dépendance, surdoses, problèmes sociaux, ITSS, etc.] », Says the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in her missive.
In Canada, there were more than 38,000 deaths apparently linked to opioid poisoning between January 2016 and March 2023. The COVID-19 pandemic could have helped exacerbate this crisis.
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