• Photo by Roxanne Thompson/The Groesbeck Journal
    Dallas attorney Blake Beckham, left, who is also a Limestone County landowner, encourages commissioners court to add Limestone County to a large group of counties pursuing a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company for its role in the widespread opioid epidemic. The court was persuaded and voted to do just that. Also shown, from right, are Commissioners Pct. 4 Bobby Forrest, Road Administrator Jerry Herin and IT Director Sean Richardson at rear.

County joins lawsuit against pharmaceutical company

By Roxanne Thompson, Staff Writer

Limestone County commissioners voted to join 28 other Texas counties in a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, a major company that produces and sells opioid-based painkillers.

The vote came at the court’s Dec. 27 meeting, after a presentation by Dallas-based attorney Blake Beckham, who also is a Limestone County landowner.

Beckham gave details of the opioid addiction crisis sweeping the nation and also told the commissioners the county needed to become part of the lawsuit before the state does, to protect its interests and get part of any settlement.

He said he had recently joined forces with Jeffrey Simon, a Dallas-based attorney who specializes in litigation cases against pharmaceutical companies.

Beckham explained that before this opioid crisis, opium-based medicines were mainly used for cancer, end-of-life care and under careful supervision by a doctor.

New versions of pain-killers, however, use small doses of opioids in the form of time-released pills and are commonly prescribed, with less oversight.

“The shocking thing about this opioid epidemic is that there are more people in the United States that use opioids daily than cigarettes,” Beckham said.

Today there are about 20 million people addicted to heroin, he said, which is 40 times as many as were addicted to crack cocaine at the height of its respective wave of addictions in the 1990s. Also, he said, heroin addiction was on a decline before this new wave of opioid addiction started.

“We now have an addiction process that starts in a trusted doctor’s office,” Beckham said. “We’ve got Baptist ministers that started out with a hurt ankle, and instead of getting physical therapy and aspirin, they got Oxycotin. Within four days they are addicted.”

Every county in Texas is affected, he said, causing expenses to the counties, the loss of valuable members of society, extra deaths and everything else that goes along with drug addictions.

To read more of this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Groesbeck Journal! You can also subscribe online or call 254-729-5103.

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