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Hillsborough County demands accountability. Joining many townships, cities, and states across the country, attorneys for Hillsborough County are demanding that pharmaceutical companies pay up to help cover the cost of healthcare, law enforcement, and treatment that Tampa and other cities have endured due to the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Mike Moore is an attorney who sued tobacco companies in the 1990s, demanding that they cover the cost of cancer treatments incurred by clients who used their products. He is also one of the attorneys on the case against big pharmaceutical companies on behalf of Hillsborough County. Says Moore: “Just like BP paid to clean up the oil spill, we want these companies to clean up the pill spill.”
The lawsuit claims that rampant opiate abuse and addiction began in Florida when pharmaceutical companies falsely represented the risks associated with taking their addictive painkillers.
Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners Chairperson Sandra Murman points out that drug companies marketed their pills as a safe treatment for chronic as well as acute pain. She says: “There is not one valid, scientific study that supports the use of opioid treatment for long-term chronic pain.”
Like cigarettes and the BP oil spill, there are no boundaries when it comes to who might be negatively impacted by the opioid epidemic. Young and old, men and women, rural and urban, and people from all religious groups, social classes, and income levels can develop an opioid addiction and/or die of an opioid overdose.
At the morgue in Hillsborough County, they have gone from having an overdose death or two per week to three or four per day in the past few years. Victims may be homeless, corporate professionals, teenagers, stay-at-home parents, or young adults in grad school or working jobs.
In 2017, 57 people in Hillsborough County died of a drug overdose. Since 2012, the number of opiate overdoses alone amounted to more than 1,000 deaths.
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There is no specific financial amount requested for restitution in the case thus far, but Moore hopes that the final number will be enough to begin to repair the damage done by long-term opiate abuse and addiction in Hillsborough County. Every bit of financial support is helpful as addiction-related costs are so extreme that the county’s budget is stretched thin. They are unable to keep up with the costs, much less provide well for needs that impact all residents. With funding needed for general healthcare, schools, social services, and more, the need for the money in Hillsborough County falls heavily on taxpayers as well as the state government, which also turns to taxpayers and the federal government for help. Should the pharmaceutical companies be required to step up and help out, it could have a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone in Hillsborough County and across the state.
If your loved one is living with opiate addiction in Florida, then you know firsthand the toll that painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin can take on a person – even if they got those drugs first from a doctor. Over time, many who began taking painkillers to treat pain developed an addiction to the drug and ultimately turned to use of heroin when it became more difficult to get the pills they needed to maintain their addiction. In the process, many lost their jobs, their family relationships, and their abilities to function healthfully in their day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, despite the negative consequences that can clearly be traced back to drug use, many people who are drowning in opiate addiction cannot stop taking the drugs – not because they don’t want to but because addiction is a medical disorder that requires comprehensive treatment.
Are you ready to help your family member connect with the opiate addiction treatment they need to avoid overdose and start a new life without painkillers and heroin?