The B.C. government has launched a claim against the makers of the Evra contraception patch to recover past and future health care costs under the Health Care Costs Recovery Act, which took effect April 1, 2009. The legislation allows for the B.C. government to commence its own proceedings for past or future costs related to health care services or “piggy-back” on-going class actions or claims launched by individual beneficiaries.
The government is claiming that the defendants (Johnson & Johnson, McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc., Janssen-Ortho Inc.) were negligent in failing to provide adequate labeling, failing to conduct long-term studies of risks of continued use of Evra, and failing to provide Health Canada with complete and accurate information about the risks.
Johnson & Johnson Inc, one of the named defendants, resolved several costly U.S. lawsuits filed by women who suffered as a result of using Evra and agreed to settle similar claims in three Canadian provinces including Ontario, Quebec, and B.C.
While interpretation of the B.C. legislation is still at an early stage, this novel claim, if successful, would mark a significant development in pharmaceutical liability to governments for costs resulting from drugs negligently researched, marketed or labeled.
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1 Health Care Costs Recovery Act, SBC 2009, c 27, s 8.
2 Joe Schneider, “J&J agrees to settle Evra lawsuits in Ontario, Quebec, B.C.”, Bloomberg (February 27, 2009) online: Drug Recall Watch Word Press <www.drugrecallwatch.wordpress.com>.