N.L. staying in class-action fight for opioid compensation in Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador says it will continue to fight for compensation from the drug companies and individuals it claims are responsible for the 'extraordinary toll' the opioid crisis has taken in the province.

"Our government remains ready and willing to participate in the reported effort to achieve global resolution of the claims against Purdue entities and the Sacklers," says a news release from the province's department of Justice and Public Safety.

In the U.S., a tentative $3-billion agreement has been reached that would propose to resolve court claims against Purdue entities and Sackler family members, "part of the global resolution," according to a statement by Purdue Pharma's head of corporate affairs and communications.

But any settlement needs to include Canada, notes the department's statement.

"To the extent that there is a real desire on the part of Purdue entities and members of the Sackler families to achieve 'global resolution,' then any proposed agreement ought to account for and include payment for the Canadian claims."

The province says if it isn't included in this settlement, it is "determined to continue to pursue our claims against the Purdue entities and also against the members of the Sackler family to the fullest extent permitted by law."

"While the province 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 ultimate detriment of Canadian taxpayers." 

Class action alleges false marketing of opioids

Newfoundland and Labrador is part of a national class action launched by British Columbia last year seeking compensation from Purdue Pharma, the drug company that began selling the powerfully addictive painkiller, OxyContin in Canada in 1996. Members of the Sackler family founded and own the company.

The Canadian class-action lawsuit alleges opioids were marketed as less addictive than other pain drugs. It seeks to recover government health-care and other direct costs incurred due to opioid-related disease, injury or illness.

Newfoundland and Labrador is also part of a working group that is sharing information on opioids with other provinces, including Ontario and New Brunswick, that are also part of the lawsuit.

The Newfoundland and Labrador government struck a task force in December 2003 to study OxyContin, which at the time had been linked to at least seven deaths in the province.

The task's force final report contains 50 recommendations including tamper-proof prescription pads, educational programs, and  a methadone program.

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