British Columbia reaches $116 mln settlement with Purdue Pharma over opioid crisis

June 29 (Reuters) - Canada's British Columbia province said on Wednesday it reached a C$150 million ($116.50 million) settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma Canada over healthcare costs related to the opioid crisis.

Purdue had been named as one of more than 40 defendants - drugmakers and distributors - in a proposed class-action lawsuit brought by British Columbia in 2018 on behalf of all provincial and federal Canadian governments. The lawsuit aims to recover healthcare costs for the "wrongful conduct of opioid manufacturers, distributors and their consultants."

"The proposed settlement with Purdue Canada has been agreed to by all federal, provincial and territorial governments and totals C$150 million in monetary benefits, plus additional benefits including access to information and documents relevant to the lawsuit," British Columbia said in a statement on Wednesday.

It added that this is the largest settlement of a governmental health claim in Canadian history.

Purdue Pharma Canada told Reuters it agreed to pay the sum and provide access to information sought by prosecutors for which the company "will be released from all past and present government opioid-related claims and liability."

Canada had a total of 29,052 apparent opioid-related deaths between January 2016 and December 2021, with a total of 7,560 such deaths occurring in 2021, according to government data.

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a 96% jump in such deaths, the data showed.

"We know that no amount of money can bring back those who have died, but we are committed to holding corporations and others accountable for acts of alleged wrongdoing committed in the manufacturing and distribution of opioid products," British Columbia's Attorney General David Eby said.

The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing or liability on the part of Purdue Pharma Canada or any of its related parties, the company said in an emailed statement.

($1 = 1.2875 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Mark Porter and Bill Berkrot

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