British Columbia reaches $116 million settlement with Purdue Pharma over opioid crisis

(Reuters) -Canada’s British Columbia province said on Wednesday it reached a C$150 million ($116.50 million) settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma Canada over healthcare costs related to the opioid crisis.

Purdue had been named as one of more than 40 defendants – drugmakers and distributors – in a proposed class-action lawsuit brought by British Columbia in 2018 on behalf of all provincial and federal Canadian governments. The lawsuit aims to recover healthcare costs for the “wrongful conduct of opioid manufacturers, distributors and their consultants.”

“The proposed settlement with Purdue Canada has been agreed to by all federal, provincial and territorial governments and totals C$150 million in monetary benefits, plus additional benefits including access to information and documents relevant to the lawsuit,” British Columbia said in a statement on Wednesday.

It added that this is the largest settlement of a governmental health claim in Canadian history. Purdue Pharma Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canada had a total of 29,052 apparent opioid-related deaths between January 2016 and December 2021, with a total of 7,560 such deaths occurring in 2021, according to government data.

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a 96% increase in such deaths, the data showed.

“We know that no amount of money can bring back those who have died, but we are committed to holding corporations and others accountable for acts of alleged wrongdoing committed in the manufacturing and distribution of opioid products,” British Columbia’s Attorney General David Eby said.

($1 = 1.2875 Canadian dollars)

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