This article was originally published in Blakes Bulletin on Litigation - January 2006
On January 17, 2006, the Superior Court of Québec refused to grant Option Consommateurs the authorization to institute class action proceedings against a number of drug manufacturers seeking damages in the amount of approximately CAD4 billion in the case of Option Consommateurs v. Novopharm et al.
The motion seeking authorization to institute a class action was filed in February 2003, shortly after a newspaper article appeared in La Presse reporting that certain unnamed pharmaceutical manufacturers may have given "illegal" rebates to pharmacists in Québec and other provinces in the form of benefits and further reporting that an investigation was launched into this matter by the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec.
By way of its proceeding, Option Consommateurs sought to represent all Québec residents against nine manufacturers of medications based on this newspaper article and general and vague allegations that "illegal" rebates purportedly granted by these manufacturers cost Québec residents more for their private or public drug insurance plans.
In rendering this judgment, the Superior Court of Québec has made it clear that the authorization of class action proceedings is not simply a rubber-stamp process which invites the institution of proceedings grounded merely on general and vague allegations and pure speculation.
Blakes successfully represented one of the Respondents, in these proceedings, and significantly contributed to establishing a precedent which will hopefully serve in the defence of future class action proceedings and relieve the reputation Québec has developed as a class action haven.
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