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Saskatchewan to join class action lawsuit against opioid industry

Jim Reiter, Saskatchewan Minister of Health responds to a reporter's questions at a press conference during the Conferences of Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Health in Winnipeg on June 28, 2018. John Woods / The Canadian Press

Editor’s note: a previous version of this story said New Brunswick announced their support when it should have been Newfoundland and Labrador. 

The Saskatchewan government is joining other provinces that are supporting a class-action lawsuit against the opioid industry.

Health Minister Jim Reiter said doing so is appropriate given the cost of opioid addiction to his province’s health-care system.

He said he’s set to table proposed legislation on Tuesday.

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

Similar legislation was recently introduced in Alberta’s legislature to allow the province to recoup health costs on an aggregate basis and regardless of when damages occurred.

British Columbia, which also has opioid cost recovery legislation, filed the proposed class-action lawsuit last year.

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It alleges drug manufacturers falsely marketed opioids as less addictive than other pain drugs, which helped to trigger a crisis that has killed thousands.

“Everybody that’s read the news in the last months or years anywhere in the country has seen the toll that opioids have taken,” Reiter said Monday.

“When, as health minister, I look at the cost to the health system that we all pay for that opioids have caused … it’s only appropriate that we’re part of that.”

READ MORE: Alberta government announces plan to join class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

The lawsuit seeks costs from the manufacturers and distributors dating back to 1996 when the pain drug OxyContin was introduced in the Canadian market.

Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Alberta have already announced their support for the lawsuit.

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