Correspondent: Danielle Rodin

British Columbia is the first among Canadian provinces to hold more than 40 pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis that is crippling the province. A lawsuit filed by Attorney General David Eby alleges that companies were negligent in pushing opioids to physicians while downplaying the risk of addiction. The province is now seeking retribution for costs incurred by the public health care system. Pharmaceutical companies have pushed back, claiming that the complexity of legal and illegally produced opioids is the cause of the spike in overdoses, and that the companies operate within Canadian and international laws. Some critics of the lawsuit say resources should instead be directed at responding to the urgent crisis of illegal opioids and providing clean drugs at injection sites, since a lawsuit could take up to decades to resolve. Other provinces are carefully watching the suit unfold before launching their own legal charges against Big Pharma.