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Opioid crisis: Quebec wants to join B.C. in class-action against pharmaceutical companies

The Quebec government intends to table a bill in the coming days to join the class action lawsuit brought by B.C. against dozens of pharmaceutical companies accused of trivializing the harmful effects of opioids.

The information was confirmed to The Canadian Press by a source familiar with the case.

In 2018, B.C. launched a class action against 40 pharmaceutical companies on behalf of the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

B.C. passed the "Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act" to support its action. This act stipulates that the province can take collective action on behalf of the federal and provincial governments.

Excluding Quebec, Yukon and Nunavut, most Canadian provinces have legislation similar to that of B.C., meaning their governments can be included in a collective action initiated by another province.

Hence the Quebec government's desire to pass such legislation.

"Although B.C. brought the class action on behalf of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, the adoption of legislation similar to that taken by B.C. notably makes it possible to promote the application by the court of legal regimes that are adapted to the situation and similar for all," said Quebec Health Ministry spokesperson Marie-Claude Lacasse in an e-mail to The Canadian Press.


B.C. claims that manufacturers misrepresented the risk of addiction to opioids. In particular, they allegedly failed to outline side effects and withdrawal symptoms adequately.

Distributors are also accused of allowing the market to be flooded with opioids, contributing to the current crisis across the country.

The claim is for $85 billion. These sums are being sought to offset the healthcare costs associated with the crisis.

A $150 million out-of-court settlement was reached between Purdue Pharma Canada and all governments in June 2022.

"Last year (July 2022 to June 2023), 525 deaths were linked to suspected opioid or other drug intoxication. And that's not counting the many other harms associated with the opioid crisis (health risks and hospitalizations, addiction, overdoses, social problems, STBBIs, etc.)," said Health Ministry spokesperson Lacasse.

In Canada, more than 38,000 deaths were linked to opioid intoxication between January 2016 and March 2023. The COVID-19 pandemic could have contributed to exacerbating this crisis.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 30, 2022. Top Stories

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