TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is ready to go to the mat with drug makers who she believes are responsible for the state's opioid crisis.
On Tuesday, she announced the state is suing eight pharmaceutical companies. She claims the companies used deceptive practices to make their drugs appeal to a broader audience.
"They employed medical professionals to act as opinion leaders throughout the country to promote their dangerous products," said Bondi. "If we continue this tragic path, it's hard to imagine any Florida family that will not be impacted by this."
Lisa Brandy was on hand for the announcement. She understands firsthand what it's like to have a loved one succumb to opioid addiction. Her daughter Brandi Meshad died battling the illness.
"My daughter was so amazing, she worked so hard at recovery," said Brandy. "So I knew when she died that if she could die from this, what's going to happen to all these other kids who don't have the support she has?"
Local sheriffs also chimed in on the issue, including Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.
"In Pasco County, this is a healthcare epidemic," said Sheriff Nocco. "We had 165 people die of opioids last year."
Sheriff Chronister believes the issue is just as grave as street-level drugs, perhaps even more so.
"These billion-dollar opioid manufacturers and distributors are no different than the local suppliers on our street corners," said Sheriff Chronister. "They are solely greed and profit-driven, with no regard for the detrimental impact it has on our communities."
AG Bondi isn't ruling out a settlement in this case.
"Our damages include addicted adults unable to work, decreased tax revenue, drug treatment, law enforcement, medical examiners and increases in state foster care services," said Bondi, who says if a settlement isn't reached, she is ready to go to court.
"You always want to settle. You always want to negotiate instead of prolonged negotiation," said Bondi. "But we are sending a message, number one, that we are fully prepared to go to war and we will take this to the end."
To read the state's lawsuit in its entirety, click here.