Statement by Attorney General Doug Downey on the Opioid Crisis


Today, Attorney General Doug Downey issued the following statement regarding Purdue Pharma:

“In May, the Ontario government introduced legislation to support Ontario’s participation in the national class action lawsuit British Columbia launched last year against more than 40 opioid manufacturers and wholesalers. Since then, our government has been monitoring with considerable interest the recent developments in the U.S. litigation concerning the manufacture, sale and distribution of opioids.

The opioid crisis has cost the people of Ontario enormously, both in terms of lives lost and its impact on health care’s front lines. We are taking action to hold manufacturers and wholesalers accountable for their roles in it.

British Columbia’s lawsuit was launched on behalf of all provincial, territorial and federal governments and aims to recover government health care and other direct costs incurred due to opioid-related disease, injury or illness.

Our government intends to invest any award from this litigation directly into frontline mental health and addiction services.

Ontario has observed a recently reported ‘tentative agreement’ that would propose to resolve the claims against Purdue entities and Sackler family members, and a statement by Purdue Pharma’s head of corporate affairs and communications that states ‘the Sacklers have offered $3 billion in cash as part of the global resolution.’

While Ontario is encouraged by a stated desire to resolve global claims, the opioid crisis is unfortunately not limited to the U.S., and continues to have a devastating impact in Canada, with a correspondingly extraordinary toll on our health care system to the detriment of Canadian taxpayers.

To the extent that there is a real desire on the part of Purdue entities and members of the Sackler families to achieve ‘global resolution,’ any proposed agreement ought to account for and include payment for the Canadian claims, which are presently advanced in a structured and consolidated manner in a national class action commenced in British Columbia. Ontario is part of the proposed class on whose behalf the national class action is brought.

However, to date there has been no effort on the part of Purdue entities and the Sacklers to involve Canadian jurisdictions in the discussions that have led to the rumoured settlement in the U.S.

Ontario remains ready and willing to participate in the reported effort to achieve global resolution of the claims against Purdue entities and the Sacklers. If, however, Ontario is not included in this process, we are determined to continue to pursue our claims to the fullest extent permitted by law.”