LISTEN LIVE

More Calls For Legal Action Against Opioids While Scott "Continues To Look At All Different Options"

Jul 20, 2017
Originally published on July 20, 2017 5:05 pm

While Gov. Rick Scott isn't committing to using courts in the battle against Florida's opioid crisis, a state senator from Miami and a Palm Beach community want to use the legal system to address the crisis.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez has sent a letter to Attorney General Pam Bondi asking her to investigate opioid drug makers and "whether these drug companies may have violated Florida law."

But Delray Beach isn't waiting for Tallahassee to take action. The city commission voted Tuesday night to become the first municipality in the state to sue the drug manufacturers. Its lawsuit will target at least eight drug makers claiming they violated state consumer protection, public nuisance, and other laws.

The state, especially South Florida communities, has been wracked by opioid addiction and overdose deaths. Through the first half of 2016, about 1,000 people died because of fentanyl and related substances. Fentanyl is a prescribed painkiller. Illegal versions of the drug in South Florida have been traced back to Chinese labs. 

In his letter, Sen. Rodriguez focused on the crisis' impact on health care costs. "This crisis has put an incredible strain on our state from pressure on hospitals and health care providers...to state agencies for reimbursements of skyrocketing opioid prescriptions." 

You can read the full letter here: 

During an event Wednesday afternoon in Boca Raton, Gov. Scott said he had not seen Sen. Rodriguez's request. "Some states have restricted the number of days you can get a prescription," he said. "I am going to continue to look at all the different options."

Three states have filed lawsuits against opioid makers. Counties in three other states have as well. Palm Beach County also is considering legal action. 

UPDATE: The Florida Attorney General's office responded to this story indicating it is on the executive committee of a multi-state investigation into opioid drug makers. The office did not clarify whether that was an official response to Sen. Rodriguez's request for an investigation.

Copyright 2017 WLRN 91.3FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3FM.