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Canadian governments OK settlement with Purdue Pharma over opioid addictions

A proposed settlement with Purdue Pharma Canada covering all provinces and territories has been reached for the recovery of health-care costs related to the sale and marketing of opioid-based pain medication
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British Columbia's Attorney General David Eby speaks to reporters in Vancouver on June 15, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam

VANCOUVER — A proposed $150-million settlement with Purdue Pharma Canada covering all provinces and territories has been reached for the recovery of health-care costs related to the sale and marketing of opioid-based pain medication.

British Columbia Attorney General David Eby said Wednesday that it’s the largest settlement of a governmental health-care cost claim in Canadian history. 

The province launched a proposed class-action lawsuit in 2018 against more than 40 drug companies on behalf of all federal, provincial and territorial governments with the aim of recovering health-care costs for the "wrongful conduct of opioid manufacturers, distributors and their consultants."

Eby said the proposed settlement was accepted by governments across Canada and a plan is being worked on to determine how the money will be divided, based on the impact of each province. 

"The money will be going to supporting provincial programs to fight the opioid epidemic that we believe Purdue's actions contributed to through their deceptive marketing," he said.

Over 27,000 people died across the country from toxic street drugs between 2016 and September 2021.

"We took this action to recover health-care costs and to hold opioid companies to account for their part in allegedly engaging in deceptive marketing tactics to increase sales, which lead to increased rates of addiction and overdose," Eby said during a news conference. 

He said the B.C. government is "committed to aggressively pursuing litigation against the other manufacturers and distributors that put profits before people."

The attorney general said there are many manufacturers, distributors and their consultants that remain named in the litigation. 

"And they are on notice by this settlement that we will be pursuing them aggressively."

The British Columbia application to certify its class-action lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court has been scheduled for fall 2023. 

The government said that could open up the door to further settlements to recover health-care costs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022. 

The Canadian Press