Hillsborough County will sue drug companies they say contributed to the opioid addiction crisis.
A group of medical, law enforcement and judicial leaders claim the drug-makers aggressively marketed opioids and overstated their benefits while downplaying the dangers in treating chronic pain.
“The opioid epidemic adversely affects many residents from all walks of life in our community,” said Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Chair Sandra Murman. “It could be anybody. [There are] no socioeconomic boundaries here.
“It affects our seniors, it affects adolescents, children, families, our stakeholders, everybody. This is a community-wide effort that needs to really take place to fight this terrible addiction [and] this terrible crisis.”
The lawsuit is filed against 14 opioid manufacturers and distributors, according to Murman.
In 2016, Hillsborough County had more babies born addicted to drugs than any other Florida county.
"We have many children every single day being removed from their homes [and] put in foster care because of their parents are substance exposed and are addicts," Murman said.
The lawsuit alleges drug manufacturers contributed to the problem and should now take responsibility for the damage caused.
Murman and several community leaders said the group would introduce an action plan "that will get to the core of this issue" to combat addiction.
Attorney Mike Moore likened the opioid crisis to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
“Just like BP paid to clean up the oil spill, we want these companies to pay to clean up the pill spill,” Moore said. "More importantly, we don't want to have 600 babies born addicted to opioids every year in this particular county. We don't want to lose 300 of our sons and daughters."
Murman and Moore were joined by several other community leaders during Tuesday morning's news conference at the Falkenburg Road Jail in Tampa, including:
-- Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister
-- State Attorney Andrew Warren
-- Hillsborough County Fire Chief Dennis Jones
-- Public Defender Bureau Chief Rocky Brancato
-- Kelly Devers, with the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office
-- Hillsborough County Health Care Services Director Gene Earley
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