SAN ANTONIO — Bexar County is taking the fight against the opioid epidemic to court.
The lawsuit against the manufacturers is filed in state district court instead of federal court. Leaders believe they’ll be more successful fighting it on their own and any money they might collect will be allocated by the county. Among the companies named in the lawsuit is Purdue Pharma, which is also being sued by the offices of several attorneys general, including Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office.
“As of today we know that in San Antonio 100 residents have died annually from overdoses that involve opioids. We know that some 300 babies are born each year opioid withdraw symptoms annually,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
Like many areas across the country Bexar County has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic.
The county brought two local law firms, Phipps Anderson Deacon LLP and Watts Guerra LLP, on board to take opioid manufacturers, promoters and distributors to court.
“We’re going up against companies that have spent a bundle of money in Congress,” Wolff said.
The law firms are hired on a contingency basis and if money is obtained from the suit, it’ll go toward treatment, something recovery centers say is desperately needed.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t meet or talk to a family or individual that’s in crisis do to this diseases that’s affecting them or a loved one. It’s very difficult to overstate the scope that it has,” said Josh Green with Rise Recovery.
In the meantime, the Joint Opioid Task Force is working to bridge treatment gaps and continuing to distribute the anti-overdose agent Naloxone or Narcan.
“In 2017 alone, 1,800 doses were administered by the San Antonio Fire Department. That’s 1,800 lives. Through federal grants the task force has been able to obtain, we now have 16,000 doses that we will distribute to police officers, Bexar County Sheriff’s deputies, resident advisors in the dorms, librarians, everybody you can think of so these are widely available to the public,” said Wolff’s Chief of Staff, TJ Mayes.
County leaders say it could take up to two years before this goes to trial. In the meantime, the task force will continue its initiatives. This weekend a pill take back day is scheduled for Saturday at Brooks City Base.