Opioid crisis is not just limited to the U.S., AG warns
Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey issued a statement regarding Purdue Pharma, dated Sept. 17, alleging that the controversial pharmaceutical company is not including Canadian claims in a proposed restitution deal.
"In May, the Ontario government introduced legislation to support Ontario's participation in the national class action lawsuit British Columbia launched last year against more than 40 opioid manufacturers and wholesalers,” Downey said in the statement. “Since then, our government has been monitoring with considerable interest the recent developments in the U.S. litigation concerning the manufacture, sale and distribution of opioids.”
Downey said that the opioid overdose crisis has cost the province enormously, impacting lives and the health care system’s front lines, and that the government is taking action to hold manufacturers and wholesalers accountable.
“British Columbia's lawsuit was launched on behalf of all provincial, territorial and federal governments and aims to recover government health care and other direct costs incurred due to opioid-related disease, injury or illness,” he continued. “Our government intends to invest any award from this litigation directly into frontline mental health and addiction services.”
The provincial government noted a recently reported “tentative agreement” that proposed to resolve the claims against the company and its owners, the Sackler family, as well as a statement by Purdue Pharma's head of corporate affairs and communications that would say “the Sacklers have offered $3 billion in cash as part of the global resolution.”
“While Ontario is encouraged by a stated desire to resolve global claims, the opioid crisis is unfortunately not limited to the U.S., and continues to have a devastating impact in Canada, with a correspondingly extraordinary toll on our health care system to the detriment of Canadian taxpayers,” Downey said, adding that if there were any a real desire on the part of Purdue entities and members of the Sackler families to achieve “global resolution,” any proposed agreement must account for and include payment for Canadian claims, which are presently being advanced in a national class action suit launched by the British Columbia government.
“However, to date there has been no effort on the part of Purdue entities and the Sacklers to involve Canadian jurisdictions in the discussions that have led to the rumoured settlement in the U.S.,” he said. “Ontario remains ready and willing to participate in the reported effort to achieve global resolution of the claims against Purdue entities and the Sacklers. If, however, Ontario is not included in this process, we are determined to continue to pursue our claims to the fullest extent permitted by law.”
A representative for Purdue Canada declined to comment.