A Nova Scotia judge has approved a settlement in the class-action lawsuit related to OxyContin, even as two people affected by addiction to the painkiller told the court Tuesday they were unhappy with the deal struck with the drug manufacturer.
The approval means Nova Scotia has become the second of four Canadian jurisdictions to agree to the settlement. The class action against Purdue Pharma (Canada) relates to allegations surrounding how it marketed and sold OxyContin and OxyNEO.
The settlement only applies to people who became addicted after they were prescribed the painkillers by a doctor. It does not cover those who are part of the larger opioid crisis in Canada.
The settlement is worth $20 million, $2 million of which will go to provincial health departments. The remainder will be split among claimants, less about $4.5 million in legal fees.
In agreeing to the settlement, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice John Murphy said, “There’s no way that a monetary settlement can make parties whole again.”
Murphy also noted it was somewhat unusual that the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, Ray Wagner, outlined the challenges they would have faced had the class action proceeded to trial.
Those included a vigorous defence by Purdue, which manufactured both OxyContin and OxyNEO. Wagner said litigation would have delayed any settlement for people who suffered from exposure to the drugs, as the case likely would have taken years to make its way through the court.
Lawyers for Purdue were in court, but offered no comment during the hearing. Purdue has said it does not admit any liability.
An Ontario judge has already signed off on the settlement. Courts in Quebec and Saskatchewan will consider the matter later this month. Those four hearings will cover claimants across the country. If either of the two courts yet to hear the case reject the settlement, it is dead.
Wagner estimated between 1,500 and 3,000 Canadians could claim a share of the settlement, once it’s approved nationwide. Each would be entitled to anywhere from $13,000 to $17,000, on average, Wagner said. However, he acknowledged some payouts could be much lower.
Wagner told the judge there are several factors that will determine the size of any compensation. They include whether the claimant suffered an overdose,…