VANCOUVER — An expert in medicine and law says an Oklahoma court ruling that found Johnson & Johnson helped fuel the opioid crisis and ordered the company to pay US$572 million will indirectly affect a similar lawsuit launched by the B.C. government.
Dr. Michael Curry, a clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia with a legal background, says the Oklahoma case does not directly apply to B.C. because it was based on a state law related to creating a public nuisance.
B.C. filed a proposed class-action lawsuit a year ago alleging dozens of pharmaceutical companies falsely marketed opioids as less addictive than other pain drugs and helped trigger an overdose crisis that has killed thousands.
But Curry says the fact that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries were ordered to pay Oklahoma more than twice the amount another drug manufacturer agreed to pay in a settlement will add pressure to settle the various claims the companies facing.
B.C. Attorney General David Eby says the two cases are different in that B.C. names a number of manufacturers and distributors, while Oklahoma named only one company, but they are based on very similar facts.
Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin and a defendant in B.C.’s lawsuit, has said that it followed all of Health Canada’s regulations, including those governing marketing, and it’s very concerned about the opioid crisis in B.C. and across Canada.
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