TAMPA (FOX 13) - Whether its big tobacco, big oil, or big pharmaceutical companies, Attorney Mike Moore isn't afraid of a fight.
He says drug makers have caused as much damage to Florida as BP's oil spill and says those companies should pay.
"Just like BP paid to clean up the oil spill, we want these companies to clean up the pill spill," Moore said.
Moore, who sued big tobacco in the 90s, is representing Hillsborough County in its lawsuit against several pharmaceutical companies.
The lawsuit alleges the drug companies misrepresented the risks of opioids, which they marketed for chronic pain.
“There is not one valid, scientific study that supports the use of opioid treatment for long-term chronic pain,” said Sandra Murman, the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman.
County commissioners announced the lawsuit Tuesday, saying drug companies are directly responsible for creating a deadly epidemic.
Dr. Kelly Devers says the evidence is in the morgue. She does the autopsies at the Hillsborough County Medical Examiners Office.
"It’s gotten worse every year, the death rate has climbed," Devers said. "We used to have an overdose when I first started, maybe once or twice a week, and now we have folks coming in who are deceased from drug overdoses, sometimes three or four a day.”
She says they come from all walks of life.
“They’re professionals, some of them are homeless," she said. "Some of them are college students. Some of them are graduating from high school and working in construction or other jobs.”
Since 2012, the county has seen over 1,072 opioid overdose deaths, a 24 percent increase over the previous five years.
Sheriff Chad Chronister says the supply needs to be dried up.
"This is not an epidemic that we're going to arrest our way out of. it is going to take treatment, prevention, education, and obviously enforcement," he said.
Right now, the county doesn't have a dollar amount on the lawsuit. Moore hopes it's enough to impact the problem.