Harris County sues drugmakers, doctors over opioid epidemic

HOUSTON – Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan said Wednesday he has filed a lawsuit in Harris County District Court against drugmakers, distributors, four doctors and a pharmacist over the nation’s opioid epidemic.

RELATED: Opioid Nation coverage

Ryan said that the those named in the lawsuit put profits above the public good when advertising and prescribing the powerful painkillers. He said lies, half-truths and deception were used to foster the use of the drugs.

The doctors named in the lawsuit have already had criminal charges filed against them, Ryan said.

DOCUMENT: View a copy of the lawsuit

Ryan said the lawsuit is seeking to prevent the group named in the lawsuit from selling opioids. He said it also seeks monetary damages and fines to be assessed.

Other defendants could be added as the county’s investigation continue, Ryan said.

Things to know about Harris County opioid lawsuit

  • 21 drug makers & distributors are named in the lawsuit.
  • Two of the national distributors named in the lawsuit have offices in the Houston area. The McKesson Corporation and Cardinal Health.
  • Harris County says it’s been forced to use all of its limited resources to address & deal with the opioid epidemic, across the board, from the criminal justice system side to the medical side. 
  • Un Harris County, in 2015, 318 deaths were directly attributed to opioid overdoses. 
  • Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan is asking all of the agencies within Harris County to look at the costs they’ve incurred as a result of the opioid epidemic. 
  • Additional defendants could be added to the lawsuit as the county’s investigation continues. 
  • The Harris County Attorney’s office is working closely with law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office who is prosecuting the results of criminal activity related to the opioid epidemic. 
  • Pharmaceutical companies make upwards of $10 billion a year on opioids, according to the county attorney. 

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