TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Hillsborough County Commission on Wednesday will vote to approve a resolution to accept a partial settlement in a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies for their roll in the opioid crisis.
Hillsborough County is one of more than 3,500 governments from around the country that has filed a lawsuit against opioid drug manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies, blaming them for the opioid crisis.
“I’ve seen first hand and I can tell you that throughout the first couple of decades of this millennium it was pretty bad,” said Commissioner Stacy White who is a licensed pharmacist. “The drug companies were downplaying the addictive nature of these long acting opioid medications. It gets people addicted and it’s very detrimental to our society.”
Johnson & Johnson and three of the United States’ largest drug distributors have agreed to pay $26 billion to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits and help fund measures to combat the opioid crisis.
If county commissioners approve the terms of the settlement, it’s expected to bring $50 million to $60 million to Hillsborough County over the next 18 years.
“This is not some sort of windfall for government this is money that’s going to go to boots on the ground to tackle what we continue to see in our communities in the aftermath of the pill mill epidemic,” White said. “This money is going to go towards much needed treatment efforts abatement efforts and prevention efforts so we can speak to young people in our community and frankly keep ourselves from getting in this position at some point again in the future.”