In Charlton v. Abbott Laboratories,
Ltd., 2015 BCCA 26, the Court of Appeal for British
Columbia overturned certification of a class action on behalf of
all Canadian consumers of sibutramine, a weight-loss drug.
It was alleged that sibutramine increased the risk of
The Plaintiffs' evidence on general causation was a trial
that had demonstrated that sibutramine increased risks of
cardiovascular events on patient with pre-existing cardiovascular
However, evidence was adduced that sibutramine ought not be
prescribed to patients with such pre-existing diseases. Therefore,
the Appellants pleaded that there was no evidence that sibutramine
causes or contributes to cardiovascular events among class members,
i.e. patients for whom it should have been prescribed and
to whom it was marketed.
The Court of Appeal accepted the argument that the Plaintiffs
had failed to adduce some evidence of a workable methodology for
how the proposed common issue of general causation could be
resolved on a class-wide basis. The Court also accepted the
argument that the remaining common issues were heavily dependent on
the general causation common issue, and thus could not be resolved
on a class-wide basis either.
Charlton is the first class action involving a
prescription drug that has been denied certification in British
Columbia. This case provides defendants with an important roadmap
for how to defeat the certification of pharmaceutical class actions
in common law provinces.
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