Hillsborough Commissioners consider suing big pharma

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County may take the first step in a legal showdown against pharmaceutical companies. County commissioners may launch an investigation into the manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids, as well as, heroin and fentanyl.

At its regular meeting Wednesday, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners will consider hiring legal council to possibly sue, manufacturers and distributors. Five legal teams are vying to represent the county in an investigation into the opioid epidemic.

Opioid overdoses in Hillsborough County began to spike in 2014, and in 2016 the majority of the county’s 197 fatal-drug overdoses involved opioids.

A lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies would, in part, help Hillsborough County recoup millions of dollars spent on first responders, law enforcement, the anti-overdose drug Narcan, and rehabilitation programs for addicts. The action would fall in line with a public health emergency declared by Gov. Rick Scott in May, in response to the state’s opioid crisis.

If the county votes to move forward, and hires legal council to investigate the opioid epidemic, there will not be any taxpayer money required, due to a contingency fee agreement that states the legal team will only be compensated if damages are recovered on behalf of the county.

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