• Osceola County considers suing pharma companies to offset costs of opioid crisis

    By: Michael Lopardi


    OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Osceola County leaders are ready to take on what could be an unprecedented plan to combat the opioid crisis.

    Commissioners could soon vote on a proposal that would allow the county to recover some of the costs associated with the problem through lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies.

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    The county attorney said it would be another tool to help the county make up some of the money spent dealing with people's addiction problems.

    The ordinance could be a first of its kind in Florida.

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    On Monday, commissioners approved a statement of legislative intent. It’s the first step in creating a new ordinance to deal with the abuse of opioids like heroin and painkillers. 

    The county attorney said the proposed rule would allow Osceola County to recover the costs of dealing with widespread addiction, like outfitting law enforcement with the reversal drug Narcan, from entities like drug companies. 

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    “I think it's a very proactive position to take and I really think that somebody needs to start to hold the pharmaceutical companies and several other folks accountable for their actions,” said commissioner Thomas Griffin. 

    Griffin runs the transition house, a substance abuse treatment center in St. Cloud.

    “We see more people coming in today because of their opioid addiction than we did last year, and we saw more in 2017 than we saw in 2016,” Griffin said.

    Last November, the county was the first in Florida to file a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies over the growing addiction problem. 

    The county attorney said new rules could be enforced through fines or the courts. Osceola County leaders said the opioid addiction has cost the county millions of dollars, and it wants help covering those costs.

    The next step is to write the proposed ordinance.

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