Dayton Proposes Tax on Drug Companies in Effort to Combat Opioid Epidemic

February 14, 2018 04:57 PM

This could mark the year the state legislature passes major legislation meant to help combat the opioid epidemic in Minnesota.

And that could include a significant new fee on drug companies that would go to fund programs around the state.

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The number of deaths from the opioid epidemic continue to rise. Minnesota saw 395 opioid-related deaths in 2016, which is more than one death every day. And that number keeps climbing.

Dayton says it's time for drug companies to step up.

"It was opposed last year by the drug companies whose product caused this epidemic and continue to fuel its expansion and those ongoing efforts should not be paid by Minnesota taxpayers," Dayton said at a State Capitol news conference with a bipartisan group of lawmakers announcing his proposal on the heels of a report released Wednesday that outlines strategies to address the opioid crisis.

Two of the lawmakers lost children to opioid overdoses and they're tired of drug companies resisting the idea of helping pay for government responses to the epidemic.

"Like many parents who've lost (children) to this I'm pretty angry about that and I don't see any reason why taxpayers should have to pay to fix this.," says Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center.

Eaton lost a daughter to a heroin overdose (heroin is an opioid).

Eaton has a Republican ally in Rep. Dave Baker, who lost a son to a prescription opioid overdose after first taking pain-killing drugs for back pain. He admits as a Republican it's hard to advocate for fees or taxes.

"I'm a Republican for crying out loud and I don't like the sound of that," said Baker, R-Willmar. "But what I will tell you for this issue today this is the best option for us to help fix this problem."

RELATED: Dayton to Propose New Plans to Tackle Opioid Epidemic in Minnesota

In Hennepin County alone, they are up 47 percent since 2015.

And Gov. Mark Dayton said the drug companies need to become more involved by paying a fee through a proposed new "Penny-A-Pill" program.

His proposal would asses a one-cent tax on drug manufacturers for every milligram of active ingredient in a prescription pain pill.

RELATED: Stanek Among Sheriff's to Meet With Trump at White House

Just a couple months ago, Dayton unveiled new guidelines for doctors and dentists prescribing opioids. The guidelines limit the doses doctors can prescribe for acute pain and calls for closer monitoring of patients after that pain period.

Physicians who don't follow those guidelines will start seeing reports in their prescription history, starting this year.

 

 

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