Atlantic region drug users sue OxyContin maker
Suit claims drug maker knew the painkiller was addictive
A Halifax lawyer is proceeding with a class-action suit against the makers of the painkiller OxyContin, with five people signed on to represent addicts in Atlantic Canada.
Ray Wagner said Monday the suit against Purdue Pharma LP will be filed soon in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
"In this particular case here, the pursuit of profit and greed for money led the executives to promote a drug that should not have been promoted in the fashion that it was to people with chronic, long-term pain," he told CBC News.
Wagner said Purdue Pharma knew how addictive the drug was but told doctors the opposite. The allegations have not been proven in court.
The five plaintiffs are from all four Atlantic provinces, and Wagner said they represent everyone in the region who was prescribed OxyContin by a doctor, became addicted to the drug, and even may have used street drugs as a result.
Steven MacGillvary, one of the five, was prescribed OxyContin 10 years ago after he got hurt on the job in Glace Bay, N.S.,and needed something to kill the pain.
"I was told that this drug was not an addictive drug," MacGillvary said.
However, he said, within two weeks he was hooked. He lost his job, his wife and children left, and he became homeless.
In May, Purdue Pharma LP pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to felony misbranding of OxyContin with the intent to defraud. Three executives also pleaded guilty to charges of misbranding.
According to a statement of fact filed in court, the company gave its sales representatives false information about OxyContin's potential for abuse to present to doctors.
MacGillvary now takes another drug to manage his pain and is on a methadone program. He has turned his life around and hopes this lawsuit will help others do the same.
The Atlantic Canada suit is one of several being filed in Ontario and across the United States.