Dallas law firm appeals to Taylor County Commissioners about opioid crisis lawsuit

Opioid addiction has been a growing concern across the country and it's grabbing the attention of the Taylor County Commissioners. Tuesday, they heard a presentation about including Taylor County in a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies.

Jeffrey Simon of Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, a law firm in Dallas, is representing other counties in the state of Texas fighting against big pharmaceutical companies to hold them financially responsible for the opioid crisis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 million Americans are dependent on opioids and about 175 Americans die every day of opioid-related deaths.

Taylor County has seen an uptick in drug cases, which ends up costing the taxpayers in the long run.

"The number of people we have in custody, as well as the people that are going to court and kids are being taken away from their parents because of pharmaceutical abuses and it affects the entire judicial system in Taylor County," said Chuck Statler, the Taylor County Commissioner from Precinct 4.

As a result of increased CPS cases, the county was forced to add another prosecutor to the District Attorney's Office.

County officials say that in the meantime, educating the public on the lasting effects of the crisis will help.

"It's a cycle that we need to break that we can only break through educating the public and letting them know the entire impact, not only on them, but their family," said Statler.

In his presentation, Simon also said that it is also up to doctors to prescribe safe dosages of opioid-based medications to patients to prevent opioid addiction.

As for responsibility of the county, Statler said, "the medical professions, how they prescribe pain relievers is going to be a challenge to them, but it's nothing that county officials should be addressing. It's within the medical society that they need to address those issues."

The Taylor County Commissioners decided to take no action on today's presentation, although they plan to discuss the possible lawsuit and revisit it another time.

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