Bexar County has become the latest to file a 'tobacco style' lawsuit against Big Pharma, blaming the drug companies for causing and encouraging through their actions the opioid epidemic which is now decimating the country, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"I think we had 64,000 deaths last year in Bexar County, most of them related in some form or fashion to opioids, many of them from prescriptions," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who has been pushing for some time to have Bexar County sue the drug companies to recoup some of those costs.
"It has had an impact, it especially has an impact on families," he said. "This has cut across economic lines."
The county has retained 'super lawyer' Mikal Watts, who is one of the most successful trial attorneys in the state, to be its lead counsel in the endeavor. Watts is also a major Democratic Party donor.
Most of the lawsuits claim that the drug companies encouraged doctors to over prescribe oipiod painkillers, many times by providing doctors financial incentives to do so. They also claim that the opioid manufacturers encouraged the highly addictive drugs to be prescribed for relatively minor pain and injuries, leading to a greater chance that the patient will become addicted.
The lawsuits follow the pattern set by the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s, in which cities and counties demanded that the tobacco industry help pay for the costs of illnesses and deaths caused by smoking.
"Bexar County has been hit especially hard by the national opioid epidemic and leads the state in rates of neonatal abstinence syndrome. By filling lawsuits, these local law firms and Bexar County are seeking to hold Pharmaceutical Companies, Distributer Companies and others responsible for the increased costs of health care, criminal justice and victimization costs, lost productivity costs, and addiction treatment programs," the County said in a statement.