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Hillsborough County Could Get $60 Million In Opioid Settlement

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The money would be spread over a period of 18 years, starting next April.

Hillsborough County is one of more than 3,500 state and local governments from around the country that filed a lawsuit against opioid drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies.

The county joined thousands of other governments in a lawsuit against 14 drug companies accused of causing the opioid crisis by downplaying their additive qualities.

These include Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health and Amerisource Bergen.

Hillsborough could get up to $60 million over a period of 18 years, starting next April.

County commissioners on Wednesday approved a resolution that allows them to join an agreement with other Florida cities and counties for how Florida's $1.6 billion payout is divvied up and used.

Attorney Michael Moore said the money will help fund opioid prevention and treatment efforts.

"This will supplement what you guys are already doing," Moore said. "You're already a model, you have a tax there to help provide some treatment for people there and you're doing so many other things."

The lawsuit contends the defendants knowingly distributed the addictive drugs, resulting in overdoses and addictions that have cost state and local governments billions of dollars in treatment, education and prevention costs.

Commissioner Mariella Smith says the money will make a huge difference locally.

"We can make these bad actors pay in in ways that will make such a difference and do so much good in our county for addressing the opioid addiction menace that these companies have profited from and pushed," Smith said

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Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.