Niki Sharma, Attorney General, and Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, have released the following statement on the battle against opioid manufacturers and distributors:
“The illegal drug supply continues to have a devastating impact on families and communities throughout the province. We are doing everything we can to save lives and keep toxic drugs away from our loved ones.
“One part of our work to address the toxic drug poisoning crisis is holding the bad actors who are fuelling this crisis – including opioid manufacturers and distributors, and their consultants – accountable.
“Through this work, we have already got Purdue Pharma to agree to the largest-ever government health settlement in Canadian history. Today marks a new step in our battle against the opioid manufacturers and distributors as we start the certification hearing as part of our efforts to move this lawsuit against other companies forward.
“In 2018, B.C. began a class action lawsuit on behalf of Canada, representing all jurisdictions, and we enacted the Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act.
“We took this action to recover the health-care costs of treating opioid-related disease, to hold manufacturers and distributors accountable for their part in allegedly engaging in deceptive marketing tactics to increase sales, which led to increased rates of addiction and overdose.
“We are holding multi-national pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the public-health emergency declared in 2016, which has taken the lives of more than 13,100 people and affected many more families. We are fighting for people in our province, and all of Canada, because it is the right thing to do.
“While no amount of money will ever bring back the people we have lost due to toxic drug poisoning, our battle against the wrongful conduct of businesses and their marketing consultants is another meaningful step to address the toxic drug crisis.
“Our government continues to do everything we can to save lives and connect people to care through this crisis. We’re targeting the organized criminals and gangs, who are preying on the most vulnerable and selling toxic drugs that are killing people, by aggressively going after unexplained wealth and supporting dedicated police units aimed at targeting crime activity.
“At the same time, we’re rapidly expanding access to mental-health and addictions care throughout the province, building a system of care that didn’t exist six years ago.
“We look forward to the continued collaboration across jurisdictions as we continue to address this crisis and recover some of the extraordinary costs incurred.”