Vancouver Kingsway MP Don Davies is calling on the federal government to investigate the role drug companies play in fueling the ongoing opioid crisis.
Davies says Ottawa should immediately launch an investigation into what damage was caused by pharmaceutical companies not properly informing users of the addictive qualities of some drugs, including opioids.
“Corporations like Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, have earned tens of billions of dollars from potent opioids from aggressive marketing but they have minimized or concealed the addiction risk,” Davies said.
Purdue Pharma executives pleaded guilty to charges of misbranding OxyContin in 2007, and the company agreed to pay the U.S. government more than US$645 million. The drug company is also tied to multiple ongoing cases in the United States.
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More than 4,000 Canadians died last year from illicit drug overdoses. British Columbia has been the epicenter of the ongoing epidemic with 1,422 people dying in the province from illicit drug overdoses.
“What message does it send to the tens of thousands of Canadians and their families who have lost a loved one to opioid overdoses when they see their authorities fail to seek justice,” Davies said. “I think we owe it to the memory of those who are affected and those who remain to be affected to hold those who profited from these opioids to account.”
Health officials believe drug users will often become addicted to drugs like OxyContin, and then continue using other drugs that may contain traces of fentanyl. B.C.’s Coroner’s Service found that fentanyl was linked to 81 per cent of the overdose deaths in the province in 2017.
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Purdue Pharma is currently appealing a Saskatchewan court ruling rejecting a proposed a $20-million class-action settlement with Canadians who became addicted to the prescription drug and their families. The judge in the case questioned whether the compensation covered the costs of treatment, rehabilitation and loss of income for the people who had developed opioid addiction.
“Canada’s federal government has neither launched a criminal investigation nor sought meaningful compensations for the public cost of this crisis,” Davies said.
“Instead of seeking accountability or compensation, Canada’s federal and provincial governments have left victims to pursue their own recourse during a privately initiated class action suit.”
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