Ontario government will join B.C.’s proposed class action against opioid manufacturers

FILE - This Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017 file photo shows an arrangement of pills of the opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen in New York. In an innovative experiment, doctors prescribed fewer opioids after learning of their patient's overdose death in a letter from a county medical examiner. More than 400 “Dear Doctor” letters, sent in 2017 in San Diego County, were part of a study that put a human face on the U.S. opioid crisis for many doctors. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison). AP file Photo/Patrick Sison

TORONTO – The Ontario government says it plans to join British Columbia’s proposed class action lawsuit against dozens of opioid manufacturers.

Attorney General Caroline Mulroney says the province will introduce legislation that, if passed, would enable Ontario’s participation in the suit launched late last year.

READ MORE: Canadian drug companies facing $1.1B lawsuit over opioid crisis

She says Ontario would invest any potential awards won from the litigation into frontline mental health and addiction services.

British Columbia filed the proposed class action against dozens of pharmaceutical companies in a bid to recoup the health-care costs associated with opioid addiction.

READ MORE: Ontario government announces central agency to oversee mental health and addictions care

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The untested suit alleges the companies falsely marketed opioids as less addictive than other pain drugs and helped trigger an overdose crisis that has killed thousands since OxyContin was introduced to the Canadian market in 1996.

It names the maker of OxyContin – Purdue Pharma Inc. – as well as other major drug manufacturers, and also targets pharmacies, including Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. and its owner Loblaw Companies Ltd., claiming they should have known the quantities of opioids they were distributing exceeded any legitimate market.

WATCH: How climate change is making the opioid crisis worse

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How climate change is making the opioid crisis worse – May 22, 2019

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