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Florida Behavioral Health Agencies Suing Big Pharma

April 4th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

Five of Florida’s seven behavioral health managing agencies are joining the wave of lawsuits against Big Pharma for its part in the opioid crisis.

The lawsuit blames the industry for misleading marketing practices, which contributed to the over prescribing of painkillers.


The Apalachee Center in the State’s Capitol is on the frontline of the opioid crisis.

Dr. Jay Reeve runs the center. He’s says over the past 5 years, opioid addicted patients have gradually become a bigger part of the center’s overall costs.


“Between 15 and 18% of all the folks that come into our detox unit are coming because of opioid related issues,” said Dr. Reeve.

The funding for the center is distributed by Big Bend Community Based Care led by Mike Watkins.

He says state and federal funding hasn’t kept up with the growing cost of the crisis.


“We have about 15 people a day dying in the State of Florida for opioid abuse and those monies aren’t coming even close to the expenses that we’re barring,” said Watkins.

Big Bend is one of five managing agencies in the state have filed suit against Big Pharma. They want to collect the cost of treating addicts. The suit blames drug makers marketing practices for the rampant overprescribing of opioids.


“The manufacturers and the distributors worked very specifically to market a product that was unsafe,” said Watkins.

The result? More addicts. Which means more people are in need of services and tax payers are on the hook for the costs.

The exact cost to tax payers hasn’t been calculated yet, but nationwide the crisis is believed to cost more than $100 billion a year.

All but two of the managing agencies in the state have signed on to the suit.

The last two, Miami and Broward are expected to join in the near future.

More than 200 cities and counties across the country have also filed lawsuits blaming Big Pharma for costs associated with the opioid crisis. Attorney General Pam Bondi is also investigating the companies, which could result in a suit on behalf of the state.

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