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Poilievre plans lawsuit against big pharma if elected

Conservative leader Pierre Poulevre says if he is elected prime minister, he will launch a $44 billion lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies over what he calls their role in the opioid epidemic.

He said Tuesday that the Polievre government will join a class-action lawsuit filed by British Columbia as a plaintiff seeking an additional $4 billion in damages to the federal health care system and will begin a “separate federal trial, after which . non-health expenditures such as border security, prisons, indigenous programs, etc.”

“In total, it’s roughly $44 billion to $45 billion that Big Pharma owes federal taxpayers, and we’re going to put that money toward recovery and treatment,” Polievre said.

BC filed its class-action lawsuit in 2018 on behalf of Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments to recover costs “resulting from the misconduct of opioid manufacturers, distributors and their consultants,” according to the province.

It named Purdue Canada, part of U.S. pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, best known for making the drug OxyContin, as one of more than 40 manufacturers and distributors named in its class-action lawsuit.

In June 2022, BC settled with Purdue Canada for $150 million, and the provincial government plans to “aggressively pursue legal proceedings against the remaining defendants until they are all held accountable.”

Polievre told reporters on Tuesday that if elected, he would not only participate in the BC class action, but also start it at the federal level.

“The people who benefited from this misery have to pay the bill,” he said, standing before dozens of people at Vancouver’s Last Door drug and alcohol treatment center.

“These powerful multinationals knew exactly what they were doing, but they continued to do it anyway to benefit themselves and their wealthy bosses,” he also said.

The Conservative leader cited the number of opioid-related deaths and hospitalizations in Canada, saying “the ADP-Liberal approach has failed” to address the problem, and blamed the current government for the rise in the number of drugs and drug overdoses in Canada.

He also repeated a message from a previous trip to BC last November, saying in a video at the time that “everything seems broken” under the Trudeau Liberals and that controlled consumption sites should be defunded because they lead to “massive” growth. in cases of overdoses and crimes.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said at the time that Polievre’s comments were “irresponsible” and “wrong”, calling them “simply irresponsible populist nonsense”.

“The evidence on this is clear. Safe delivery saves lives. We cannot afford to return to harmful, unscientific ideology at the expense of human lives,” he also tweeted in November.

While Polievre said Tuesday that funds for controlled consumption sites should be spent on border enforcement and a tougher stance on repeat offenders who “prey on drug addicts,” he said Tuesday that funds for those sites should go toward rehabilitation and treatment programs.

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