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Scott Thompson: British Columbia steps up to hold big pharma to account for opioid crisis

What action is the B.C. government taking in response to opioid crisis
Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Judy Darcy explains some of the treatment and recovery programs that the B.C. government have created in response to the opioid crisis.

If we had treated big pharma the way we have treated big tobacco in the past, we may have a handle on the opioid crisis that is killing North Americans by now.

Although opioid death numbers may not be as high as those caused by smoking over the last several decades, at the rate they are increasing now, how long before they do?

READ MORE: B.C. government launches lawsuit against opioid manufacturers to recoup overdose crisis costs

While there have been U.S. lawsuits, I’m surprised it has taken this long for a Canadian government to take action against the mass marketing campaigns opioid manufactures embarked on to sell products that doctors would not touch for years because of their severely addictive nature.

The original opioid, a derivative of the poppy plant, has been used for centuries. But only in the last couple of decades have drug companies realized the profit created by what they said were much safer versions of a very old, old drug.

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From miracle drug to social scourge: the history of opioids
From miracle drug to social scourge: the history of opioids

WATCH: From miracle drug to social scourge — the history of opioids

Docs were skeptical but eventually were won over by slick progressive marketing campaigns that questioned their past (perhaps) archaic knowledge or stereotypes of such drugs.

Recent history and events have told us that it’s quite the opposite in this country, with thousands dead and many more in a spiraling addiction.

Presser: B.C. initiates class action lawsuit against opioid makers
Presser: B.C. initiates class action lawsuit against opioid makers

WATCH: B.C. initiates class action lawsuit against opioid makers

So why shouldn’t these companies be held partially responsible for promoting a drug that they insisted was safe and non addictive, and that may be creating more problems than it is helping?

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British Columbia is doing just that by suing 40 companies involved in manufacturing and distribution of opioids to try and recoup what they are spending on treating this tragedy.

And it’s about time.

Scott Thompson is the host of The Scott Thompson Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML