September 17, 2018 8:31 pm
Updated: September 18, 2018 11:55 am

B.C.’s Attorney General says this Stephen Colbert video explains why province is suing opioid companies

WATCH: The Late Show host Stephen Colbert says opioids are "the most dangerous American export".


British Columbia’s Attorney General says a new video from talk show host Stephen Colbert offers a good explanation as to why the B.C. government is suing 40 companies involved in opioid production. David Eby says Colbert’s recent rant about Purdue Pharma raises important issues around allegations about the company.

“The video will help people understand why the British Columbia government is taking this step,” David Eby said.

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“These are really allegations against not just this one particular drug company in the video but the allegations also concern the conduct of other companies. Allegations they didn’t track where their medications were going and they should have known full well medications were being diverted to illegal markets.”

“It’s helpful when the allegations are really distilled in a way that people can understand why we are doing this.”

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

The video is focused around Purdue Pharma, the company that produces OxyContin and has been named in the B.C. government’s class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind in Canada, with a government taking direct legal action against drug companies in connection with opioid addiction and overdose deaths.

Victims have attempted to seek damages by filing a class action lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. It led to a proposed $20-million settlement, with $2 million going to the provinces and territories and no admission of guilt. The settlement has stalled.

READ MORE: Province’s fight against opioid crisis showing progress: N.S. chief medical officer

Purdue Pharma has lost a number of court cases in the United States. The company promoted the pain killer OxyContin as safer and less addictive than other opioids. The company has acknowledged in the United States that its marketing of OxyContin was misleading and paid US$634.5 million in 2007 to settle criminal and civil charges.

Colbert’s video focuses on the lawsuits that Purdue Pharma has lost in the United States in connection to the ongoing drug epidemic. The late night comedian points out that that four out of five heroin users in the U.S. started by misusing prescription painkillers and that the company is now in the midst of an international expansion to market the highly addictive medication across the world in place across Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

WATCH HERE: B.C. government sues big pharma over opioid crisis

But where then host of the Late Show got the biggest gasps from the crowd is when he explained the emergence of Rhodes Pharma, a new company owned by the Sackler family. The Sacklers, who also own Purdue Pharma, are creating a new product that will to ease people off of the addictive opioids.

“If the Sacklers haven’t done enough damage it was revealed just this week they own another second secret company, Rhodes Pharma,” said Colbert.

“The Sacklers addicted the country to opioids and now they are going to profit off the cure. That takes a pair of ‘swinging Sacklers.'”

WATCH HERE: Is B.C.’s opioid lawsuit a case of deja vu?

Eby says that the B.C. government is in the midst of working with other provinces to join the legal case. He points out that it would be crazy to have a tobacco company also produce a product to try to reduce the addiction people have to nicotine.

“I’m not aware of a situation where a tobacco company invested money in a company that produced treatment for nicotine withdrawal,” said Eby.

“And it would be shocking to hear about that just as it was shocking to hear about companies who have profited from what we have alleged to be illegal activities and marketing these drugs to physicians then taking the additional step to trying to profit from those trying to recover from opioid addiction.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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