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Houston Matters

Getting Trial Date Is Next Step In Harris County’s Lawsuit Over Opioid Epidemic

More than 115 people die in the United States everyday after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It has been one year since Harris County filed a lawsuit against 21 drug manufacturers, four doctors and one pharmacist because of the opioid epidemic and one of the lawyers working on the case told Houston Public Media the next step is getting a trial date and taking depositions of executives from pharmaceutical companies.

Tommy Fibich –of the Houston-based law firm Fibich, Leebron, Copeland, Briggs— is working with the Office of Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan and was interviewed on Houston Matters.

“We’re trying to get as much information as quickly as we can and trying to get some cases set for trial,” noted Fibich.

He underlined the lawsuit's goal is twofold: having opioids declared a nuisance and recovering costs because of the expenses the county faces due to the epidemic.

Fibich said that approximately 30 percent of the individuals incarcerated in Harris County, with a rate of about $90 per day, end up behind bars because of a crime related to opioids. Additionally, there are costs related to probation and, in some cases, foster care.

WATCH: Attorney Tommy Fibich talks about the next step in the lawsuit:

Fibich explained one of the arguments of the lawsuit is that opioid drugs are stronger than morphine but were promoted as being non-addictive by pharmaceutical companies.

He said doctors were misinformed. “Doctors get their information from the pharmaceutical companies,” Fibich noted, “doctors that we go to don’t go out and do individual drug testing on drugs, they have to rely upon the pharmaceutical companies.”

The nuisance declaration would be useful, according to Fibich, because if the defendants lose the trial, they could be forced to fund treatment centers in Harris County.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids.

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