OxyContin Class Action

What Is The OxyContin Class Action?

On September 26, 2007 Ches Crosbie commenced a class action lawsuit against the narcotic manufacturer Purdue Pharma. The class action alleges that the narcotic maker is guilty of deceit in the marketing of the painkiller OxyContin and claims a monetary remedy on behalf of residents of Atlantic Canada who were legally prescribed the drug, including those who developed dependency or addiction issues. The class action has been launched in Halifax and Toronto in alliance with law firms representing provincial subclasses. Ches Crosbie represents class members in Newfoundland and Labrador.

What Is The Story Behind The OxyContin Class Action?

OxyContin is a powerful and long acting narcotic that delivers effective control of serious pain for up to 12 hours. Purdue Pharma claimed that its drug, because of its time-release formulation, posed a lower threat of abuse and addiction to patients than other, faster-acting painkillers like Percocet or Vicodine. An aggressive and misleading marketing campaign pushed sales of OxyContin to over $1 billion per year. The drug manufacturer heavily promoted OxyContin to doctors like general practitioners, who sometimes were under-trained and under-resourced in treating serious pain or in diagnosing drug abuse.

By 2000, soaring rates of addiction and crime related to use of OxyContin became obvious in parts of the United States, particularly in rural areas. Purdue Pharma successfully covered up its misdeeds and obtained dismissal of over a thousand OxyContin related lawsuits in the United States.

The nature and scope of Purdue Pharma’s deceit in its marketing of OxyContin became publicly known in May 2007, when the company and three of its current and former executives pleaded guilty in Federal Court in Virginia to criminal charges. They confessed that the company had misled doctors and patients when it claimed that the drug was less likely to be abused than traditional narcotics. The company agreed to pay over $600 million in fines and other payments to settle the charge of misbranding OxyContin. This is one of the largest amounts ever paid by a drug company in such a case.

The pattern of OxyContin addiction seen in the United States repeated itself in Atlantic Canada, particularly in Cape Breton and in Newfoundland and Labrador. The scope of the problem created in Newfoundland and Labrador was discussed in the OxyContin Task Force Final Report, June 30, 2004. The report noted that the bulk of OxyContin on the streets originated with prescriptions generated in the province and has led to an increase in the number of pharmacy break and enters, armed robberies at pharmacies, break and enters at homes targeted for OxyContin, personal robberies with violence, and shoplifting rings operating in St. John’s for the purpose of obtaining OxyContin. There has also been a surge in deaths related to drug overdoses.

The proposed representative plaintiff for the Newfoundland and Labrador subclass is George Critchley. Mr. Critchley was prescribed OxyContin in 1998 as a result of back injuries received in a motor vehicle accident which occurred while he was carrying out his duties as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He remained on OxyContin until 2002.

To find out if you are eligible for inclusion in the class action lawsuit, please contact Patient Injury Law.


I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the regular updates. It has been a long time in the process. But I do have faith that justice will prevail in the end and value the efforts being put forward. Thank you!
Patricia Way
Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL