Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a lawsuit against five hospital systems throughout the state, as well as the Miami-Dade County School Board, claiming that the institutions are acting as a barrier to settlements with pharmaceutical-industry companies over the opioid epidemic.
The lawsuit was filed in the Leon County circuit court and is directed toward the Halifax Hospital Medical Center, Sarasota County Public Hospital District, West Volusia Hospital Authority, Lee Memorial Health System, North Broward Hospital District, and the Miami-Dade School Board.
“Defendants — subdivisions that have brought claims that are subordinate to the attorney general’s action — place the attorney general’s settlements in jeopardy and threaten to immediately devalue the relief available to those who have been impacted by the opioid crisis,” the lawsuit stated. “Defendants’ claims, therefore, imperil Florida’s actions, as sovereign, to protect the safety and welfare of Florida citizens.”
Florida has received a multitude of settlements from big pharma companies in recent weeks, though the lawsuit states that some, like the Sarasota County Public Hospital District, are making efforts to prevent settlement numbers to be reached.
In late March, Florida received a settlement from CVS, who paid the state $484 million, while Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to dole out $195 million. Allergan PLC will pay just upwards of $134 million and Endo International Plc will pay $65 million. Most of the money will be spent on opioid abatement. Teva will also provide $84 million of its generic Narcan nasal spray, which can temporarily reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, Reuters reports.
“The opioid epidemic is wreaking havoc on Florida families,” said Moody. “Since day 1, I have worked tirelessly to hold accountable those who helped start this crisis. With today’s announcement, we have now secured an additional $860 million for mitigation efforts.
According to the most recent data available through the Florida Department of Health, nearly 68 percent of the 4,698 reported drug overdose deaths in Florida involved opioids in 2018—a total of 3,189 fatalities. In 2018, Florida providers wrote 53.7 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, compared to the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions. Several cities in Florida have been hit particularly by the opioid epidemic, leading former Governor Rick Scott in 2017 to order a statewide public health emergency.