Episode 17: Class Action

People on methadone in B.C. are suing the government and a pharmaceutical company for decisions which may have contributed to the overdose crisis. Laura Shaver is the lead plaintiff in a new proposed class action lawsuit against British Columbia’s College of Pharmacists, the Ministry of Health, and the pharmaceutical corporation Mallinckrodt. Laura – who is also on Crackdown’s editorial board – may wind up representing all of the province’s methadone users. She’s seeking damages for harms related to the switch from compound methadone to Methadose in 2014.  

You can find a transcript for today’s episode here. Crackdown believes that transparency is a cornerstone of journalism. For that reason, we have made our transcripts as detailed as possible, with footnotes sourcing how and where we have found our information. We also highlight the sections of our episodes that contain analysis, opinion or advocacy. 

The Notice of Civil Claim was filed on June 1st by Vancouver-based attorney, Jason Gratl. It says  that Mallinckrodt, the College, and the Ministry knew, or ought to have known, that the switch was dangerous. The Notice claims these defendants were “downplaying or denying the risks of switching from Compounded Methadone to Methadose.”

The Notice echoes the work of Vancouver’s drug user activists–including Garth Mullins and Laura Shaver–who have maintained for years that Methadose is significantly inferior to the old compound methadone. If the civil claim goes to trial, it will be the first time these allegations are tested in court. 

On episode 17 of Crackdown, Garth talks to Laura and Jason about the pending case. 

Mallinckrodt did not respond to our requests for comment in time for broadcast.  The BC College of Pharmacists and the Ministry of Health both declined to comment due to the civil suit.

Vancouver’s Most Deadly Month

Our update on Methadose comes just as the Vancouver Coroner’s Office has released some very grim statistics. According to a report by BC’s Coroners Service, the province saw 170 suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths in May. That is the highest monthly total ever. These people were friends and family, colleagues and comrades. 

Reading list: 

Disclosures

Garth and Laura are both members of the B.C. Association of People on Methadone and have actively campaigned against the switch to Methadose for years.

Jason Gratl has represented both Garth and Laura in previous cases. 

Abolition, justice & antiracism resources:

There have been mass arrests across the U.S. and protesters are sitting in jail right now. Community bail funds get people out and prevent them from languishing in pre-trial detention. The cash bail system disproportionately affects BIPOC and low-income communities, and community bail funds are fighting to end the practice entirely. You can contribute here: https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory

Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police, who broke into her apartment on a “no-knock warrant” in March. Cate Young (@battymamzelle) put together this list of actions you can take for justice for Breonna https://msha.ke/30flirtyfilm/

Regis Korchinski-Paquet died on May 27 after Toronto police came to her family’s apartment. https://www.gofundme.com/f/justice-for-regis

George Floyd memorial fund: https://ca.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd

Chantel Moore, a Tla-o-qui-aht woman, was killed by RCMP in New Brunswick on June 4th during a “wellness check.” You can support her family here: https://ca.gofundme.com/f/support-for-family-of-chantel-moore

Readings: 

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard: https://robynmaynard.com/policing-black-lives/

The Skin We’re In: a Year of Black Resistance & Power by Desmond Cole: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/536075/the-skin-were-in-by-desmond-cole/9780385686341

Anti-Racist Resource Guide by Victoria Alexander: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1a-lzdtxOlWuzYNGqwlYwxMWADtZ6vJGCpKhtJHHrS54/edit

It’s Long Past Time to Talk About Policing of Black Women in Canada by Robyn Maynard: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/05/29/its-long-past-time-to-talk-about-policing-of-black-women-in-canada.html

Resources for a future without police https://www.mpd150.com/resources/

VANDU: As VPD budget spirals out of control, defunding police is our community alternative to drug war: https://www.straight.com/news/1332066/nathan-crompton-vpd-budget-spirals-out-control-defunding-police-our-community

We must defund the police: it is the only option by Sandy Hudson: https://www.macleans.ca/society/life/we-must-defund-the-police-it-is-the-only-option/?utm_medium=organic&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1591316503

Credits

Crackdown is produced on the territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

Our Editorial Board is: Samona Marsh, Shelda Kastor, Greg Fess, Jeff Louden, Dean Wilson, Al Fowler, and Laura Shaver. Rest in Peace Dave Murray and Chereece Keewatin. 

Crackdown’s senior producer is Sam Fenn. Our producers are Lisa Hale and Alexander Kim. Our science advisor is Ryan McNeil, Assistant Professor & Director of Harm Reduction Research at the Yale School of Medicine. 

Today’s episode was fact-checked by Polly Leger.

Garth Mullins is Crackdown’s host, writer and executive producer. You can follow Garth on twitter @garthmullins.

Original score written and performed by Sam Fenn, James Ash and Garth Mullins. Our theme song was written by Garth and Sam with accompaniment from Dave Gens and Ben Appenheimer.   

Crackdown is produced with funds from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and our Patreon supporters. 

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