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August 27th, 2019

NDP Calls for Canada to Take Legal Action Against Opioid Manufacturers

Trudeau refuses to take on pharmaceutical companies after meeting with them 875 times

BURNABY — Johnson & Johnson, the American pharmaceutical giant, has been ordered to pay US$572 million for fueling the opioid crisis south of the border. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP Health Critic Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) are calling on the Trudeau government to join the Government of British Columbia to take civil legal action on behalf of Canadians - and investigate whether criminal charges are warranted.

"Each and every day for the last two years, 10 Canadian families lost a loved one because of the opioid crisis," said Singh. "Drug companies played a role in the American opioid crisis, and they may be legally responsible for the devastation opioids caused in Canada, too. Justin Trudeau's Liberals need to stop protecting big pharma at the expense of people and communities."

Trudeau's Liberals have refused to join British Columbia's legal action to seek compensation from drug companies for the costs of addressing the opioid crisis. To date, Trudeau and the Liberals have taken no steps to investigate the role that drug companies may have played in fueling the opioid crisis.

Since the last election, the Liberals have received more than $32,000 in donations from people at pharmaceutical and insurance corporations, and have met with their lobbyists at least 875 times.

"Families have been torn apart, and lives have been devastated. With the Johnson & Johnson decision, grieving parents in Canada are left to wonder if opioid manufacturers also marketed these products to Canadians and Canadian doctors in a way that skirted federal law," added Davies. ''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. Families who lost a loved one to this crisis deserve answers."

Jagmeet Singh 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 fueling the opioid crisis, seeking meaningful financial compensation for the costs of this crisis. The NDP is also committed to supporting overdose prevention sites and expanding access to addictions treatment.


  • Last summer, the NDP government of British Columbia filed a civil lawsuit against drug companies to recoup the enormous costs incurred by that province in addressing the crisis. This year, the government of Ontario announced they would join B.C.'s lawsuit.
  • In addition to Monday's ruling, the United States Department of Justice has already secured criminal pleas and, along with dozens of states, over $600 million in damages from opioid manufacturers for misbranding offences in that country.
  • From 2011 to 2016 alone, provincial drug plans across Canada spent $548.6 million on medications to treat addictions to prescription and illicit opioids. Hundreds of millions of dollars more were spent by governments for emergency room visits, first responders and treatment programs.