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Jacksonville Councilman Reacts To President’s Public Health Emergency Declaration

Bill Gulliford
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The same week President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency; officials in Jacksonville are readying a lawsuit against companies who manufacture the drug.

Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Gulliford
Credit City of Jacksonville
The Florida Channel
Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Gulliford

City leaders allege the pharmaceutical industry engaged in deceptive business practices.

On average three people die of opioid overdoses in Jacksonville every day, according to the city’s medical examiner.

It’s that ever growing body count that spurred City Councilman Bill Gulliford to explore a lawsuit against drug manufacturers for deceptive marketing.

“It is the responsibility of a lot of greedy pharmaceutical companies that sold doctors initially on the idea that it was not addictive when it was horribly addictive,” he said.

The city council voted Tuesday to proceed with lawsuit and directed the Office of General Counsel to select an outside law firm to represent Jacksonville in court.

Related:  Trump Administration Declares Opioid Crisis A Public Health Emergency

Gulliford praised Trump’s Thursday public health emergency declaration, but said he hopes it’s just the first step in a comprehensive response from the federal government.

“Anything that brings more and more attention to this pandemic, this crisis, is a benefit. The weight of a president bringing attention to that issue is certainly significant,” he said. “My first reaction was ‘great,’ now how about some funding to go along with it?”

Trump’s public health emergency declaration stops short of what NPR reports the president promised months ago — a national emergency declaration. The latter could have released federal funding for treatment programs immediately.

Ryan Benk can be reached at , 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @RyanMichaelBenk.

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Ryan Benk is originally from Miami, Florida and came to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University. He worked on Miami Dade College’s Arts and Literature Magazine- Miamibiance Magazine and has published poetry and a short film called “ The Writer.” He’s currently working as the Newsroom’s Researcher while finishing his Creative Writing Bachelor’s Degree at Florida State University. When he’s not tracking down news, Ryan likes watching films, writing fiction and poetry, and exploring Florida.