About 100 local governments have filed suits related to the increasingly-recognized opioid crisis. Now, Harris County is one of them.
On Wednesday, December 13, 2017, Harris County filed suit in Harris County District Court against twenty-one pharmaceutical makers, a pharmacist, and several doctors. And more defendants may be added to the case later. The suit alleges that, due to a conspiracy and negligence, the defendants contributed to a public health problem, seeking profits over the welfare of the community. Harris County specifically claims that the defendants created a public nuisance. Attorneys for the County assert that, because of the vast number of prescriptions written by a few, knowledge of the scheme would have been known up the chain to the manufacturers.
The numbers of those affected by the opioid epidemic has steadily risen. According to media accounts, 264 people died in 2012 due to opioids. By 2014, the number had increased to 282. After that, the figure climbed still further to 311 people. County Attorney Vince Ryan has said that over 90 people a day are dying nationwide from opioids.
The County seeks actual damages for the costs imposed upon taxpayers from opioid addictions, as well as punitive damages. The suit is pending in the 133rd Judicial District Court. In addition to this civil suit, criminal charges are pending against some defendants, including a pharmacist and doctor.