Lubbock County has taken similar action to other governments around the country, in filing a lawsuit against several drug manufacturers for how they sold and marketed opioids. The county is seeking more than $1 million in damages, requesting a jury trial.
The county, meanwhile, remains part of a class-action lawsuit against pharma companies that we reported earlier this year.
The new filing claims the companies put "profit over people" and, as a result, the nation suffered. "[A]nd few places in Texas suffered more than Lubbock County", according to the lawsuit.
It states the manufacturers "worked in concert to flood Lubbock County with more opioids than could possibly be consumed for therapeutic purposes, resulting in an opioid prescription rate in Lubbock County that remains well above state and national averages. Defendants disregarded their legal duty to ensure that opioids were being prescribed for a valid medical purpose."
The suit states between 2006 and 2012 there were 77,595,883 prescription pills supplied to Lubbock County, enough for 41 pills per person per year. It also cites University Medical Center EMS for stats in 2016. The service responded to 190 suspected overdoses; 49 of these resulted in deaths, a 26 percent increase over the previous year.
Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said it is time to take action.
"We're seeing what this is doing to families. We're seeing what this is doing to young people, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters being damaged by this opioid crisis, and we say here in Lubbock County: Enough is enough," Parrish said.
Attorney Fernando Bustos said there is a precedent for the county to succeed in holding "Big Pharma" liable.
In August, the first ruling to hold a drug company responsible for fueling the opioid crisis was made.
"Recently, the state of Oklahoma filed suit against Johnson and Johnson, and some other pharmaceutical giants, and they had a judge deliver a verdict of over $500 million," Bustos said.
Below is the lawsuit: