The Quebec government has introduced a bill that would allow it to join a proposed class-action lawsuit against more than 40 pharmaceutical companies accused of downplaying the harmful effects of opioids.
The lawsuit application, launched by the British Columbia government in 2018, seeks $85 billion in damages to compensate Canadian governments for health-care costs linked to opioids.
B.C. alleges that drug makers misrepresented the risk of opioid addiction and failed to mention side effects and withdrawal symptoms.
Quebec’s bill would allow the government to sue opioid makers, wholesalers and consultants for health-care costs resulting from their alleged failure to warn the public of the risks associated with their drugs.
The bill, tabled by Quebec Social Services Minister Lionel Carmant, also makes it possible for Quebec to join class actions initiated in other Canadian jurisdictions, which the province currently cannot do.
There were more than 38,000 deaths linked to opioid toxicity in Canada between January 2016 and March 2023.
The Canadian Press