A conservative government would sue drug companies over the opioid crisis, says Poilievre
Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said Tuesday that a federal government he leads will sue the biggest drug companies to reclaim federal dollars spent on the opioid crisis.
“The opioid epidemic has devastated our communities, devastated lives and devastated families. We must demand justice for the victims of addiction,” Poilievre said in a media statement.
The proposed lawsuit, he said, would seek to recover federal healthcare costs associated with the drug crisis, including “border security, courts, the criminal justice system, Indigenous programs, lost federal tax revenue and massively expanded treatment programs.”
At a news conference in New Westminster, BC, Poilievre said a Conservative government would also join a BC-led class action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and their advisers.
The Conservative Party says the two lawsuits seek $44 billion in federal dollar spending on health care and lost tax revenue. It said the money recovered would go towards treatment and recovery programs for those struggling with addiction.
BC’s 2018 class action lawsuit targets over 40 drugmakers and retailers to recover costs stemming from the drug crisis that has killed thousands in the province.
The lawsuit alleges that drug companies, distributors and consultants have employed “deceptive marketing practices” to increase drug sales, leading to a surge in addiction and overdose deaths.
In June 2022, Purdue Pharma Canada, a pharmaceutical company widely accused of fueling the opioid epidemic by fraudulently marketing its product Oxycontin, agreed to a proposed $150 million settlement with BC on behalf of all provinces and territories.
The province’s allegations against Purdue Pharma Canada have not been proven in court.
Amendments to the lawsuit, introduced in October 2022, have given the federal government an opportunity to join the lawsuit and name additional defendants, including directors and officers of drug companies.
Poilievre criticized the Trudeau administration’s handling of the opioid crisis, particularly its federal funding of safe-of-supply programs. He has also attacked his relationship with consulting firm McKinsey, which settled a $600 million lawsuit in the United States over its role in the opioid crisis.
Possessing small amounts of certain illegal drugs in BC is no longer a criminal offense for persons 18 and older under a three-year federal government pilot program
While this is intended to minimize harm to drug users, Poilievre said he doesn’t think decriminalization is a solution.
“We must give people the hope of living drug-free by investing resources in recovery and treatment programs,” he said.