The Province of British Columbia in Canada has filed a lawsuit alleging opioid drug companies of marketing malpractices that led to an epidemic of addiction.

Filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the notice of civil claim involved more than 40 opioid manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors.

Through the lawsuit, the government intends to recover the high healthcare costs incurred due to the opioid crisis.

British Columbia Attorney General David Eby said: “It’s time opioid drug companies take responsibility for the human and financial toll their products have taken on so many families across British Columbia.

“Drug companies must take responsibility for their role, and need to put the lives of people ahead of profits.”

“In court, we will argue that these drug companies deceptively marketed their products knowing full well the potential consequences, and as a result, British Columbia has incurred great costs.”

The government claims that the defendant companies have considered only their profits but not the public’s health and safety.

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The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants falsely marketed the risks and benefits associated with opioids to prescribers and patients, and in turn caused ‘serious harm’ to the public healthcare system.

The government is planning to introduce the opioid damages and healthcare costs recovery act in order to support the court process of the filing.

This legislation is set to enable the court to review statistical data, budget information and additional population-based evidence of the government’s opioid-related costs.

British Columbia Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy said: “Drug companies must take responsibility for their role, and need to put the lives of people ahead of profits.”

Additional Canadian provinces and territories will be able to join the filing if the court certifies it as a class action lawsuit.