British Columbia files lawsuit against opioid industry (flickr.com)

Media Contacts

Ministry of Attorney General

Media Relations
778 678-1572

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions

Media Relations
250 208-8438

Backgrounders

Lawsuit and proposed legislation regarding the opioid industry

The Attorney General of B.C. has filed a Notice of Civil Claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against dozens of opioid manufacturers and distributors. By addressing the financial impact of the opioid crisis on the health-care system, this legal action is one response in tackling the broader issue.

The lawsuit

  • The claim is against more than 40 companies involved in manufacturing, wholesaling or distributing brand name and generic opioid drugs. 
  • British Columbia’s opioid-related health-care costs are rising each day and are still being determined. It is too soon to speculate on the damages the lawsuit may seek, or how any award might be applied to alleviating government’s health-care costs. 
  • If the court certifies the claim as a class action under the Class Proceedings Act, other provinces and territories will be able to join the lawsuit. Discussions with other jurisdictions are underway. 
  • A timeline for large and complex litigation like this is difficult to predict. The next step will be to serve each of the defendant companies with a copy of the lawsuit and await their response. Government will then prepare for the certification hearing.

The legislation

  • Government will introduce the opioid damages and health-care costs recovery act in the next sitting of the legislature. 
  • The legislation will allow the court to consider statistical data, budget information and other population-based evidence of government’s opioid-related costs, rather than having to introduce each expense record for individual patients.