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City Council authorizes general counsel to pursue lawsuit against opioid manufacturers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday approved a measure that would allow the city's general counsel to investigate and pursue litigation against pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and distribute opioid medications.

In the resolution, the City Council said, "The city has identified significant damages incurred in connection with the opioid epidemic."

The bill passed during Tuesday's City Council meeting comes as overdose deaths in Northeast Florida have doubled. 

In August, attorneys with a national firm told the Jacksonville City Council that pharmaceutical companies played a role in the opioid epidemic, and there are enough damages for the city to consider suing. 

During an hour-long presentation Aug. 3, two attorneys with Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd said that Jacksonville is the 24th highest city in the country for opioid prescription abuse.

Attorneys Mark Dearman and Aelish Baig said they believe a lawsuit would help reimburse the city some of the money paid for drug overdoses and deaths.

The city of Jacksonville said it responded to over 1,000 more overdose calls last year than the year prior. 

The cost of transporting overdose patients is expected to cost the city $4.45 million this year, according to statistics from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. 

The city has also approved a $1.4 million pilot program, which will attempted to help opioid users recover.