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Justice for Florida? The State is Set to Sue Big Pharma

By: Shannon Persad September 14, 2020 no comments

Justice for Florida? The State is Set to Sue Big Pharma

The opioid crisis in the last two decades has taken a toll on Florida, to the point the state will sue Big Pharma.

Initially filed in November 2018, a trial date of October 2021 has been set for the state to go after various pharmaceutical companies and seek compensation for damages.

Ashley Moody, Florida’s Attorney General, is leading the charge. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Florida is seeking unspecified damages from the pharmacy chains and the pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors. The state has produced about 8,000 documents so far, and Hearn (lawyer for Big Pharma) said he expects “probably millions” more, in addition to more than 120 depositions, before the trial. Moody has pushed for a trial as soon as possible.”

There’s pushback from the pharmaceutical companies, however, claiming it is not their fault but the fault of physicians who filled opioid prescriptions. CVS and Walgreens have filed a third-party complaint, citing 500 anonymous physicians were to blame for the epidemic, not them.

Moody filed a motion to dismiss the third-party complaint with the following statement back in February 2020, “CVS and Walgreens’ gambit is factually unsupported because both Pharmacies have records concerning the prescriptions that the Pharmacies dispensed, including the names of the doctors who wrote the prescriptions. Yet, CVS and Walgreens have not named a single prescriber and, instead, have filed this pleading against 500 John and Jane Doe defendants. The Pharmacies’ tactic is also legally groundless because Florida law treats such John and Jane Doe filings as a nullity. Such a filing does not commence a legal action against any party.”

Who Is Responsible for the Opioid Crisis in Florida?

Throughout the years, there has been finger-pointing as to who is responsible for the opioid crisis in Florida. From drug wars to doctor’s overprescribing, to shady practices by pharmaceutical companies, to others blaming individuals for their life choices, leading to addiction—it’s hard to find the source.

However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the opioid crisis started with pharmaceutical companies telling doctors that their drugs were not addictive. NIDA states, In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive. Opioid overdose rates began to increase.”

In Florida, “pill mills” were prevalent, especially in Broward County, where opioids were distributed with no regulation, paid in cash. Opioids were being prescribed at an alarming rate, until 2011, where a prescription monitoring program was implemented, which reduced opioid prescriptions every year as doctors became more accountable. Today, opioids in Florida have been prescribed at it’s lowest rate since 2006, when people started to track the rates. However, despite a reduction in prescription rates every year, opioid overdose deaths have increased yearly due to those seeking more harmful alternatives, such as heroin and fentanyl.

How to Get Help for Opioid Abuse in South Florida

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