The Province is introducing amendments that would allow the federal government to join a B.C.-led class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and permit the expansion of the number of defendants.
“B.C. led the country in holding opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable, and today B.C. is expanding its opioid litigation legislation,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Nothing will ever replace the lives lost in our Province, but we keep using every tool in our toolbox – from prevention to safe supply to treatment – to turn the tide on this terrible crisis.”
Amendments to the Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act will enable the governments of British Columbia and Canada to pursue recovery from opioid manufacturers, wholesalers and other potential defendants in a class-action lawsuit that is in progress. The amendments will strengthen the act by ensuring directors and officers of corporate defendants may also be held accountable.
“Our government is continuing to do everything we can to address the damage opioids have done to people’s lives in B.C.,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “That’s why we are introducing these amendments, which will permit the expansion of the legal action against more than 40 opioid distributors and manufacturers.”
In 2018, B.C. commenced a class-action lawsuit on behalf of provincial and territorial governments in Canada and enacted the Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act to support the class action. The aim of the class action and legislation is for governments to recover costs for health care provided to patients that resulted from wrongful conduct of opioid manufacturers, distributors and their consultants. The class action is expected to be certified in 2023.
B.C. alleges that opioid manufacturers, distributors and the consultants that advised them engaged in deceptive marketing practices with a view to increase sales, resulting in increased rates of addiction and overdose.
Purdue Pharma (Canada) is one among over 40 manufacturers and distributors named in the class action. Earlier this year, the Province reached a first-of-its-kind settlement with Purdue Pharma to recover health-care costs related to the sale and marketing of highly addictive opioids.
The provinces, territories and Canadian government will continue to aggressively work together until all defendants have been held accountable.