Ontario plans to sue opioid makers in bid to recoup health care costs – The Japan Times

Ontario plans to sue opioid makers in bid to recoup health care costs - The Japan Times

Ontario intends to join B.C.s proposed class action against opioid manufacturers

Announcement comes as the US state of Oklahoma is poised to become the first to go to trial against drugmakers.

Canadas most populous province of Ontario on Monday announced plans to sue opioid makers to recover healthcare costs related to the deadly addiction epidemic. Ontarios attorney general, Caroline Mulroney, said the province will join a lawsuit launched last year by British Columbia against more than 40 opioid manufacturers and wholesalers.

According to local media, the province will introduce legislation that, if passed, would allow Ontario to join the proposed class action lawsuit.  “The opioid crisis has cost the people of Ontario enormously, both in terms of lives lost and its effect on healthcares front lines,” Mulroney said. She unveiled legislation to set up the legal action “to battle the ongoing opioid crisis and hold manufacturers and wholesalers accountable for their roles in it.” More than 10,000 Canadians have died of opioid-related overdoses since 2016, according to government figures. Combatting the crisis is estimated to have cost Ottawa nearly $300m (400 million Canadian dollars). Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario have been the hardest-hit provinces but the epidemic has affected every part of the country. 

It names the maker of OxyContin – Purdue Pharma Inc. – as well as other major drug manufacturers, and also targets pharmacies, including Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. and its owner Loblaw Companies Ltd., claiming they should have known the quantities of opioids they were distributing exceeded any legitimate market.

The British Columbia suit named opioid manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors as defendants, including Purdue Pharma, whose popular OxyContin drug has been blamed for triggering the crisis. “These opioid manufacturers and wholesalers failed to warn doctors and the public of the dangers of opioids and marketed them as safer and less addictive than other medications when they were not,” Ontario said in a statement. Mulroney said Ontario intends to invest any award from the suit in mental health and addiction services. Neither British Columbia nor Ontario has yet said how much they would be seeking in damages.

The announcement comes as the US state of Oklahoma is poised to become the first to go to trial against opioid makers. 

Several states in the United States have reached settlements with drugmakers, but Tuesdays trial against consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson and several of its subsidiaries could bring to light documents and testimony that show what the companies knew, when they knew it and how they responded. 

British Columbia filed the proposed class action against dozens of pharmaceutical companies in a bid to recoup the health-care costs associated with opioid addiction.

The outcome could also shape negotiations on how to resolve the roughly 1,500 opioid lawsuits filed by state, local and tribal governments. Those have been consolidated before a federal judge in Ohio.

TORONTO – The Ontario government says it plans to join British Columbia’s proposed class action lawsuit against dozens of opioid manufacturers.

Oklahoma alleges the defendants helped create a public health crisis in the state by extensively marketing highly addictive opioids in a way that overstated their effectiveness and misrepresented addition risk. The drugmakers deny those claims.

She says Ontario would invest any potential awards won from the litigation into frontline mental health and addiction services.

On Sunday, Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva agreed to pay the US state of Oklahoma $85m to settle a lawsuit accusing it of heightening the states opioid epidemic, Oklahomas attorney general said.

READ MORE: Ontario government announces central agency to oversee mental health and addictions care

Attorney General Mike Hunter said in a statement the Teva settlement shows Oklahomas “resolve to hold the defendants in this case accountable for the ongoing opioid overdose and addiction epidemic that continues to claim thousands of lives each year.”

So far in 2019 in Hamilton, Paramedic Services has responded to 332 incidents related to suspected opioid overdoses. In 2017, Hamilton’s opioid-related death rate was 72 per cent higher than Ontario’s average, with 88 residents dying from opioid overdose. Opioid-related deaths are increasing annually in the city.

Overdoses from prescription painkillers and heroin – a last-resort illicit drug for opioid addicts – exploded over the last 20 years, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The untested suit alleges the companies falsely marketed opioids as less addictive than other pain drugs and helped trigger an overdose crisis that has killed thousands since OxyContin was introduced to the Canadian market in 1996.

Nearly 400,000 people died from an overdose involving prescription or illicit opioids from 1999 to 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Ontario government says it plans to join British Columbia's proposed class action lawsuit against dozens of opioid manufacturers.

Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Elliott’s parliamentary assistant are expected to give more details when the legislation is announced.

Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said on Monday that the province will introduce legislation that, if passed, would enable Ontario's participation in the suit launched late last year.

The proposed lawsuit was filed by B.C. last year in an effort to recoup the health-care costs associated with opioid addictions.

She said Ontario would invest any potential awards won from the litigation into frontline mental health and addiction services.

British Columbia filed the proposed class action against dozens of pharmaceutical companies in a bid to recoup the health-care costs associated with opioid addiction.

The untested suit alleges the companies falsely marketed opioids as less addictive than other pain drugs and helped trigger an overdose crisis that has killed thousands since OxyContin was introduced to the Canadian market in 1996.

It names the maker of OxyContin — Purdue Pharma Inc. — as well as other major drug manufacturers, and also targets pharmacies, including Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. and its owner Loblaw Companies Ltd., claiming they should have known the quantities of opioids they were distributing exceeded any legitimate market.

In a separate Ontario case launched earlier this month, lawyers representing patients who became addicted to opioids filed a statement of claim seeking more than $1.1 billion in various damages from nearly two dozen companies.

That suit alleges the companies were negligent in how they researched, developed and marketed opioids starting in the 1990s.

At the same news conference, Mulroney said the Ontario government will establish an agency to oversee mental health and addictions care across the province.

She added that the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence will be a central point for oversight of care.


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