This week, Purdue Pharma has filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. to safeguard itself and its owners from more than 2,000 lawsuits over their role in the continuing opioid crisis, but the move has placed Pressure on Canadian efforts to bring the company here to trial.
The business, owned by members of the Sackler family, has created billions to sell the prescription OxyContin painkiller that is commonly regarded as a catalyst to the crisis that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Sunday and proposed a settlement in the U.S. worth up to $12 billion US.
At the center of the lawsuits is the allegation that the firm marketed and promoted prescription opioids as less addictive than was actually recognized while misleading the hazards both those who prescribe the medicines and the patients themselves.
Future of Canadian lawsuits
he B.C. last year. On behalf of all provincial, territorial and federal governments, the government initiated a comparable class-action lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and more than 40 other businesses on the marketing of opioids in Canada. The purpose of the suit is to recover the crisis’s healthcare expenses.
Canada’s worry is that the assets at the center of the lawsuit could be in jeopardy due to U.S. bankruptcy filing, says Matthew Herder, Health Law Institute’s director at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
A main point of argument in the lawsuit is Purdue Pharma Canada’s statement that it is a “distinct corporation” from Purdue Pharma in the U.S. and the activities taken to settle litigation there has no “direct impact” on its Canadian business.
Misleading marketing allegations
The Canadian lawsuit is based on the same values alleging false ads and understating opioid addictive characteristics, but there are variations in the legal structures that challenge businesses to prosecute — including the pace at which the judiciary moves.
In a declaration, Purdue Pharma Canada said it followed all the laws of Health Canada, including those governing marketing, and it is “profoundly worried” about the opioid crisis in B.C. And throughout Canada.
Sacklers under fire
The Canadian class action also applied for the addition of individual members of the Sackler family to the lawsuit and other “senior decision-makers” at Purdue Pharma Canada prior to the bankruptcy filing this summer.