St. Paul –
Legislation is currently being discussed in the Minnesota state Senate that would help fund treatment and addiction services – paid for by Big Pharma. Two lawmakers are working across the political divide to make sure that the citizens of Minnesota no longer have to use their tax dollars to mitigate the opioid crisis. Senator Julie Rosen and Senator Chris Eaton have proposed a state level Opiate Stewardship Advisory Council that would have a dedicated source of money – fees imposed on drug manufacturers.
The Minnesota OSAC would be tasked with identifying existing and new programs that would help to end the scourge of opiate addiction in the state. A rough figure of $20 million per year has been proposed as an initial budget. Perhaps the best part of this proposed legislation is that the money does not come from the General Fund, but from newly imposed fees on the very companies that make billions on these drugs.
Currently, companies like Purdue Pharma (revenue three billion dollars annually) need only pay $235 per year to sell their opiates in the state. The proposed bi-partisan law would increase those fees, among others, in order to secure a source of funding for the much needed programs that addiction to these drugs has caused.
“There’s some frustration from the general public that nothing was accomplished” last year, Rosen said in an interview in November of 2018. “And I think the pharmaceutical companies need to be accountable because we have some real needs and it frustrates me that we still have to take care of them out of our general fund dollars.”
While there is not a scheduled vote on the proposed law yet, momentum is building.