The opioid overdose epidemic continues in Jacksonville, and a Jacksonville City Council Special Committee is still addressing the matter.
Even as legislators mull a path forward on treatment, the city is also considering legal action against pharmaceutical companies — continuing a trend we are seeing nationwide.
Committee Chairman Bill Gulliford told a story of a 29 year old who overdosed — the son of a friend.
“It encouraged me even more to do everything we can to address this scourge,” Gulliford said, noting that the overdose victim first took opioids after a motorcycle accident.
One means of addressing the scourge: legal action against the pharmaceutical companies.
The Office of General Counsel is vetting what are called “prestigious” law firms, with a decision expected early in December.
Earlier this year, the Jacksonville City Council approved a resolution OKing legal action.
“The general counsel’s approved it, and I don’t feel like there’s any impediment,” Gulliford said.
The city has absorbed real costs from the opioid epidemic.
Overdoses, at last count, end four times as many lives as homicides in Duval County, with 2016’s count of 464 casualties more than doubling 2015’s count of 201.
Caucasians represent 86 percent of the deaths, and over half of those passing away are in their 30s and 40s.
And things could get worse: a fentanyl derivative being used to cut heroin in the Ohio Valley doesn’t respond to Narcan.
911 calls for ODs to the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department have tripled. Narcan administrations: up 500 percent. JFRD responded to over 3,411 calls in 2016, and the cost of transporting OD victims could near $4.5M this year.
JFRD is dealing with, on average, 321 calls a month related to overdoses alone, a representative said in the meeting.