Bexar County Commissioners are discussing with District Attorney Nico LaHood whether to file a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical companies which manufacture the pain killer drugs which are at the heart of the current opiod addiction crisis, officials tell News Radio 1200 WOAI.
While San Antonio has not been hit as hard by the opioid crisis as have cities and counties in the Midwest and in Appalachia, the highly addictive pain killers have caused significant problems on Bexar County streets.
"Opioids and their derivatives have gone up by three times what they were around 2000," County Judge Nelson Wolff said. "Too many prescriptions, too many people being hooked on drugs."
Wolff says just like the tobacco companies had to pay the cost of the damage their product does to society under the landmark 1998 tobacco settlement, the big pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility too.
"We really don't know how the route may go," Wolff said. "All we know is that we are interested in it (filing a lawsuit). We have to rely on the District Attorney for the legal part.
Cities and counties in Ohio and New Mexico have already filed lawsuits against Big Pharma over the costs of the opioid addition to their communities.
Bexar County counts costs including increasing numbers of overdose treatments and deaths, as well as the social costs of addition, including abandoned children, lost workplace productivity, and increasing welfare, jail, and hospital costs.
The common argument runs that Big Pharma, in its interest to make a profit on pain killing drugs, rewards physicians for writing prescriptions for their products, increasing the number of people who become addicted to the drugs. The drug companies are also alleged to be using deceptive advertising in selling the drugs, and downplaying the dangers of addiction to physicians and to patients.