**** HEALTH/WELLNESS Media Release
Legislation Strengthens Province’s Ability to Sue Opioid Companies
Opioid use and overdose has taken a personal and financial toll on many Nova Scotians, their families and communities.
The province wants to hold opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable for the harmful impact of their drugs which is why Government introduced the Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act today, March 3.
“Hundreds of Nova Scotians are dealing with opioid use and dozens die each year from opioid-related overdoses,” said Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. “Too many families have been affected and we believe drug companies need to take responsibility for the role they have played.”
This legislation will ensure Nova Scotia has an option to proceed with action against opioid manufacturers and distributors. This may include supporting British Columbia’s class action lawsuit or taking legal action of its own, to recover health-care costs and other direct costs incurred due to opioid-related disease, injury and illness.
The bill will also simplify the procedure for proving damages caused by opioid manufacturers and distributors by allowing the use of aggregate health data instead of individual health records.
The act will take effect on proclamation.
“The prescription of opioids over the past 20 years has created large numbers of people who are dependent on opioids. It is also a tremendous strain on our health-care system – opioid overdoses needlessly take lives, place significant stress on communities, and can overwhelm first responders and emergency departments.”
– Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health
– an average of 60 Nova Scotians die every year from confirmed and probable opioid-related overdose
– the province’s first Opioid Use and Overdose Framework was launched in July 2017
– government invested $5.68 million last year to treat opioid-use disorder, provide naloxone for overdose reversal and train health providers
– government’s continued investment has improved access to treatment by reducing wait times, saved lives with the distribution of more than 13,000 take-home naloxone kits, trained dozens of police officers on trauma-informed care and built ongoing public awareness
– British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Ontario have all passed similar legislation and Saskatchewan is expected to pass its bill this spring
Nova Scotia’s Opioid Use and Overdose Strategy: https://novascotia.ca/opioid/
Take Home Naloxone Program, including a map of participating pharmacies: http://www.nsnaloxone.com/