On the eve of International Overdose Awareness Day, the federal NDP is calling on the federal government to join B.C. to take civil legal action against pharmaceutical companies over the opioid crisis on behalf of Canadians, and investigate whether criminal charges are warranted.
The NDP’s call for action comes on the heels of Johnson & Johnson, the American pharmaceutical giant, being ordered to pay $572 million U.S. for fuelling the opioid crisis south of the border.
Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, said the Liberal government has so far refused to take on pharmaceutical companies over the ongoing crisis after meeting with them 875 times.
“Throughout my riding, I’ve spoken to numerous parents, siblings, spouses, and friends who have lost their loved ones to the opioid epidemic,” MacGregor said.
“The number of opioids prescribed in Canada is one of the highest in the world, at 21.3 million prescriptions filled in 2017. This decision in the U.S. leaves us to wonder if opioid manufacturers also marketed these products to Canadians and Canadian doctors in a way that skirted federal law.”
MacGregor noted that Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, and that the federal government has declined to join British Columbia’s legal action to seek compensation from drug companies for the costs of addressing the opioid crisis.
“To date, the government has taken no steps to investigate the role that drug companies may have played in fuelling the opioid crisis,” he said.
“It’s time to launch civil action, and a federal investigation to determine whether criminal charges are warranted against opioid manufacturers and distributors for their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis,” said MacGregor.
“Families who lost a loved one to this crisis deserve answers.”
MacGregor and the NDP have vowed, if elected, to immediately declare a public health emergency and launch an investigation into the role drug companies may have played in fuelling the opioid crisis.