Manatee Co. to sue drug companies amid opioid crisis

The opioid addiction crisis continues to hit Manatee County harder than most places in Florida.  

Officials say there have been so many overdose deaths in the county, the medical examiner is running out of storage for bodies.

Manatee County says its overdose problem is largely driven by heroin and fentanyl use.

The problem has become such a financial burden, County Commissioner Charles Smith says the county is taking steps to sue major pharmaceutical companies that produce a lot of the opioids that get people hooked.

“They’re marketing strategies are to blame,” Smith said. “People are dying.”

Commissioners are in the process of hiring an outside law firm that's been involved in similar suits for other drug-plagued communities.

Manatee County's Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Russell Vega, says the county's death rate is climbing so quickly, the county is being forced to build a new morgue because they are running out of space to store bodies.

“You’ve got to have refrigeration or the bodies decompose,” Vega said.  “No one wants that.”

Commissioners say they are still in the early stages of a lawsuit and they're not announcing how much in damages the county will seek.