Please note that at the end of this main information page there are links to view updated News and Court Documents as well as a Registration page to obtain a form to join the class action.
On September 26, 2007, Wagners filed a proposed common law class proceeding in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on behalf of all persons affected by the use of OxyContin and on December 5, 2007, an Amended Statement of Claim was filed in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia which substantially modifies the original Statement of Claim.
In cooperation with law firms in each of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, Wagners commenced an innovative class action against the narcotic's manufacturer Purdue Pharma. The proposed class action is for the benefit of any person in Canada who claims personal injury and/or damages as a result of being prescribed OxyContin. The proposed Class Members are represented in each of the Atlantic Provinces on an opt-out basis by law firms in each Atlantic Province. It is proposed that Class Members from outside the Atlantic Provinces will be able to participate on an opt-in basis.
The proposed class action suit alleges that the narcotic maker is guilty of deceit in the marketing of the painkiller OxyContin and claims a monetary remedy on behalf of residents of Canada who were legally prescribed the drug, including those who developed dependency or addiction issues. The class action has been launched in Halifax in alliance with law firms representing provincial subclasses in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The nature and scope of of Purdue Pharma's deceit in the marketing of OxyContin became publicly known only in May 2007, when the company and three of its current and former executives pleaded guilty in Federal Court in Virginia to criminal charges that it had misled doctors and patients when it claimed the drug was less likely to be abused than traditional narcotics. Before the guilty plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney, Purdue Pharma had successfully covered up its misdeeds and obtained dismissal of over a thousand OxyContin related lawsuits in the United States.
In May 2007, Purdue Pharma agreed to pay over $600 million US in fines and other payments to settle the charge of misbranding OxyContin. This is one of the largest amounts ever paid by a drug company in such a case. OxyContin is a powerful and long acting narcotic that delivers effective control of serious pain for up to 12 hours. Purdue Pharma claimed that OxyContin, because of its time-release formulation, posed a lower threat of abuse and addiction to patients than other, faster-acting painkillers like Percocet or Vicodine. An agressive and misleading marketing campaign pushed sales of OxyContin to over $1 billion US per year. The drug manufacturer heavily promoted OxyContin to doctors like general practitioners, who sometimes were under-trained and under-resourced in treating serious pain or in diagnosing drug abuse. By 2000, soaring rates of addiction and crime related to the use of OxyContin became obvious in parts of the United States, particularly in rural areas.
This pattern repeated itself in Atlantic Canada, particularly in Cape Breton and in Newfoundland and Labrador. The scope of the problem created in Newfoundland and Labrador was discussed in the OxyContin Task Force Final Report, June 30, 2004. The report noted that the bulk of OxyContin on the streets originated with prescriptions generated in Newfoundland and Labrador and has led to an increase in the number of pharmacy break and enters, armed robberies at pharmacies, break and enters at homes targeted for OxyContin, personal robberies with violence, and shoplifting rings operating in St. John's for the purpose of obtaining OxyContin. There has also been a surge in deaths related to drug overdoses. This report may be found here.