Opioid crisis: $150M settlement reached in B.C.-led lawsuit to recoup health-care costs

A settlement has been reached with the Canadian arm of opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma in the British Columbia-led legal action linked to the overdose crisis.

The pharmaceutical company has agreed to pay $150 million in response to B.C.’s proposed class-action lawsuit to recover health-care costs related to the sale and marketing of opioid-based pain medication.

“B.C.’s efforts to negotiate this unique settlement, together with other Canadian governments paves the way for additional settlements to be reached in the ongoing litigation against other manufacturers and distributors of opioid products,” said Attorney General David Eby on Wednesday.

“We know that no amount of money can bring back those who have died, but we are committed to holding corporations and others accountable for acts of alleged wrongdoing committed in the manufacturing and distribution of opioid products.”

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Purdue Canada is one of more than 40 defendants named in B.C.’s class-action claim, launched in 2018 on behalf of all federal, provincial and territorial governments in Canada.

The province alleges that opioid manufacturers, distributors and their consultants engaged in “deceptive” marketing practices with a view to increase sales, resulting in increased rates of addiction and overdose.

The toxic illicit drug supply claimed the lives of at least 2,236 British Columbians in 2021, the highest annual total in history.

There has been a public health emergency in the province since 2016, and recently the federal government approved a request to decriminalize the personal possession of hard drugs in B.C.

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The settlement was reached very early in the litigation process, the province said, before the allegations against Purdue Canada have been proven in court.

B.C.’s application to certify its class action has been scheduled for the fall of 2023 and could open up the door to further settlements to recover health-care costs, it added.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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