VANCOUVER – NDP Health Critic Don Davies (Vancouver – Kingsway) today called on the federal government to launch a criminal investigation into the role played by drug manufacturers in fueling the opioid crisis in Canada, which claimed the lives of over 4000 Canadians in 2017 alone.  He also called for the federal government to pursue substantial compensation from these manufacturers for the cost of addiction to our public health system.
“U.S. officials have already secured criminal convictions against top Purdue Pharma executives and recovered nearly $700 million from civil actions, with more in progress,” said Davies. “In contrast, Canada’s federal government has neglected even to launch an investigation or seek compensation for the tragic consequences and public costs of addiction to their products. If corporate executives minimized or concealed the addictive qualities of these products in the US, it is possible that they did so in Canada as well. We need federal action to find out now.”
To date, Canada has left victims to seek their own recourse through a privately-initiated class-action lawsuit. The action resulted in a proposed settlement last year of $20 million, with only $2 million allocated to provincial health authorities. A judge in Saskatchewan recently rejected the settlement because no steps were taken to ensure that past and potential future public health care costs were identified.  
“From 2011 to 2016 alone, provincial drug plans spent $548.6 million on medications to treat addictions to prescription and illicit opioids.  When you add public expenditures on first responders, emergency care and treatment programs, Canadian governments have spent well over a billion dollars to deal with the consequences of these highly addictive products. 
What message does it send when thousands of Canadians die from overdoses and our authorities fail to seek justice?” added Davies. “We owe it to the memory of those lost to this crisis to hold those who profited to account.”