The Saskatchewan government will be joining a class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, which was launched by British Columbia earlier this year. The lawsuit claims opioid manufacturers and distributors falsely marketed opioid drugs such as fentanyl as less addictive than other pain medications.

“The opioid crisis has caused a lot of problems right across the country,” Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter said outside the Legislature chambers Tuesday. “It’s lost a lot of lives and it's caused a lot of drain financially.”

The lawsuit was filed by B.C. on behalf of all federal, provincial and territorial governments and agencies that paid health care, pharmaceutical and treatment costs related to opioids, from 1996 to the present.

“The opioid crisis has come at a significant cost to citizens, health care and law enforcement,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan stated in a written release.  “By taking part in the class action launched by B.C., we are giving notice to the drug companies that we believe they have a responsibility to compensate the provinces for a portion of the damage opioid addiction has caused.”

The Saskatchewan government will be introducing legislation similar to legislation already in force in B.C. and Ontario. It will give the province the ability to take direct action against opioid manufacturers and distributors. The legislation will be introduced this fall, and passage is expected to happen next spring.