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County may join opioid lawsuits

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By Sean Arnold

In a scene reminiscent of the successful lawsuits against Big Tobacco in the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies have become a target for their role in the opioid crisis.

The Levy County Commission on March 6 signaled its intent to join in on the action in order to recover costs that the opioid addiction has wreaked on local services and healthcare. The lawsuits, both federal and state, contend that the drug makers have knowingly misled users about the harmful effects of their painkillers, leading to widespread addiction and long-term health problems.

County attorney Anne Bast Brown said at the meeting she has consulted with other counties that have reached agreements with firms to join in lawsuits, and has spoken with law firms seeking business from counties. She says counties like Alachua and Osceola have signed onto agreements with firms that avoid any costs up front for the counties, and those counties are shielded through the agreements from counter-suits from the pharmaceuticals.

“These attorneys have developed formulas for how they can figure out what each county’s healthcare costs are (related to opioid addiction),” Brown said.


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