Walz speaks with pharmaceutical companies about opioid crisis

February 05, 2019 07:02 PM

Thousands of Minnesotans are either battling opioid addiction or know someone who is.

And Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz spoke via conference call with opioid manufacturers about the issue.

Afterward, he said he didn't want to "demonize" the entire pharmaceutical industry, and that he thinks they understand they have a responsibility to be part of finding a solution to the opioid addiction crisis.

RELATED: Bipartisan legislation to help end opioid crisis introduced in the Minn. Senate

Two Minnesota senators have already introduced legislation this session meant to help end the state's opioid crisis.

Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center, and Sen. Chris Eaton, D-Brooklyn Center, introduced the bipartisan legislation intended to create an Opiate Stewardship Advisory Council, which would consist of legislators and medical experts in an attempt to develop ways to fight opioid addiction in Minnesota.

The senators are seeking funding for county-administered services to help children neglected as a result of parental addiction; increased prescription monitoring; prevention, awareness and education programs; stronger reporting from pharmaceutical companies; and development of "evidence-based treatment programs" as part of the proposed legislation.

The senators said funding for the legislation would come from increased licensing fees on opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Last year, the industry made a last-minute push to defeat a similar bill.

But Walz said he came away hopeful after his discussion with pharmaceutical company representatives Tuesday. The legislation could ask them to pay up to $20 million in "licensing fees."

He said he expects a bill will end up being passed this session.

"It was my expectation before this session started, and it's been reinforced now, that a piece of meaningful legislation will end up on my desk that I will sign," he said.


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