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Bexar County suing opioid industry to combat epidemic

Despite Bexar County only making up 5 percent of the state’s population, 66 percent of all opioid problems in Texas come from the San Antonio area, which is one of the many factors leading the Bexar County Commissioners Court to target pharmaceutical companies in a lawsuit.

On Tuesday, the Commissioners Court motioned “to sue all opioid manufacturers, promoters, and distributors responsible for causing and contributing to an epidemic of opioid addiction in Bexar County.”

By filing the lawsuit, Bexar County becomes one of the first counties in Texas to go head-to-head with the major pharmaceutical companies.

County Judge Nelson Wolff said Tuesday’s lawsuit against the opioid industry is following the track of the smoking industry lawsuit that was filed several years ago.

“While that (lawsuit) was a terribly important because they (smoking industry executives) lied to the community also about the effects of smoking and certainly paid a price for that … this (opioid addiction) is something much insidious and much more dangerous than smoking,” Wolff said.

Martin Phipps with Phipps Anderson Deacon LLP is one of the many lawyers from two San Antonio firms chosen by District Attorney Nico LaHood to represent Bexar County in the lawsuit.

“When looking into what we can do, we discovered that Bexar County has 5 percent of the population in the State of Texas but 66 percent of the opioid-related issues and 25 percent of the babies born are basically addicted to opioids,” Phipps said.

The Commissioners Court motioned the lawsuit only with the provision that any proceeds granted to the county go directly to treatment and research to help the Bexar County citizens who are dealing with the addiction of opioids.

In September, KSAT-12 and KSAT.com addressed the opioid epidemic that is unraveling communities, including San Antonio, by featuring: “Opioid Nation: An American Epidemic.”