Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bondi Weighs Legal Fight over Opioids

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bondi Weighs Legal Fight over Opioids

Article excerpt

Byline: Christine Sexton News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE | Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Thursday said Florida could soon pursue legal action against manufacturers and distributors of opioids.

Bondi is working with a coalition of state attorneys general in seeking information about the distribution, marketing and sale of opioids from major manufacturers and distributors.

The state hasn't filed suit. But Bondi's agency last week posted a request for proposal seeking legal services from a private law firm to serve as cocounsel in "various legal matters relating to the opioid crisis."

Also, Trish Conners, a Florida chief deputy attorney general, will be at a Jan. 31 meeting with Cleveland federal judge Dan Polster, who is overseeing upward of 200 lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of drugs such as OxyContin and Percocet.

When asked whether she would hold the companies responsible for their actions, Bondi said, "Absolutely. Are you kidding? Look at what we are facing in this state. I'm over them. Over them. They need to fix their conduct."

Numerous states and local governments, including Delray Beach, have filed lawsuits alleging that manufacturers overstated the benefits of opioids while downplaying the risk of addiction. Other Florida cities that are considering filing suits, according to the Sun Sentinel newspaper, include Palm Beach and Broward counties.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Richard Corcoran told The News Service of Florida last week that although he hasn't researched the details, he would lean toward litigation.

"Whether it's cities, counties or state, my inclination would be: Why wouldn't we? And I would have to be talked out of it as opposed to the other way around," Corcoran, RLand O' Lakes, said when asked about potential legal action.

Opioids are commonly used to treat acute and chronic pain. But abuse of the drugs has become rampant in recent years in Florida. In 2016, there were 5,725 deaths attributed to opioids, a 35 percent jump from the previous year. More than 4,000 babies were born addicted to opioids in Florida that year, a 1,000 percent increase from a decade ago. …

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