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Justice or Profit?: Lawyers scour Texas for opioid lawsuit clients

Justice or Profit?: Lawyers scour Texas for opioid lawsuit clients

March 14th, 2018 by Gazette Staff in Opinion Editorial

Both Miller County, Ark., and Bowie County, Texas, are among the more than 100 states, counties and cities currently suing opioid manufacturers in federal court.

The allegation is that large pharmaceutical
companies minimized or even misled the public about the dangers posed by prescription drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. In their quest to maximize profits, the suits charge Big Pharma disregarded the health and well being
of patients.

The opioid crisis has been in the news a lot. Prescription drug abuse has taken the spotlight once focused on heroin and other illegal drugs.

With good reason, since ready availability means addiction, overdoses and deaths from such drugs have skyrocketed over the past two decades. That means government agencies have to spend more and more to fight the plague and treat its victims. And they want that money back.

Sound familiar? It should. It was the same rationale used in the big tobacco lawsuit back in the late 1990s. Since much of it was litigated here, many residents are no doubt familiar with the case. Tobacco companies ended up agreeing to pay a minimum of $206 billion over 25 years.

The lawyers in the case got a hefty chunk of that money. The states got a lot more, much of which was never used for anything related to reducing tobacco use or caring for those impacted by smoking, according to data compiled by the American Lung Association. And it looks like they all hope to do the same this time around.

According to a report Tuesday in the Texas Tribune, law firms are combing the Lone Star State making presentations to city and county officials, hoping to sign them up for a free ticket in what could be the opioid lottery jackpot.

Yes, if all goes as planned then governments and lawyers should reap a big payday here. And Big Pharma will likely have to modify their marketing somewhat and take out their checkbooks, but that's just the cost of doing very big business.

Are these folks looking for justice or simply filing for dollars? Will any of this help reduce the pain and suffering opioid addiction has caused, or just fill some government coffers and boost some law firm profits?

That's the big question.

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