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Minnesota renews push for tax on prescription opioids

(Reuters) – Citing rising opioid fatalities, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on Wednesday introduced a renewed legislative proposal to tax prescription opioid drugs to assist fund therapy.

Minnesota is one among at the least 13 states to have thought-about an opioid tax in recent times to assist pay for the fallout from the United States’ opioid epidemic, though none have handed, based on the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dayton’s proposal would levy a one-cent tax on drugmakers for every milligram of lively ingredient in a prescription ache tablet, producing an estimated $20 million a yr for prevention, policing, emergency response and therapy.

Dayton final fall blamed “special corporate interests” for blocking the same proposal in 2017.

“We must take decisive action in this legislative session to reduce abuses and to ensure that all Minnesotans suffering from these addictions receive the treatment and support they need,” Dayton, a Democrat, mentioned in a press release.

The efforts come as a rising variety of states and counties are suing opioid producers to recoup prices of a worsening epidemic. In December, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the U.S. fee of drug overdose deaths in 2016 grew 21 % from the prior yr.

FILE PHOTO: A needle used for capturing heroin and different opioids lies on the street within the Kensington part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller/File Photo

Minnesota had 395 opioid overdose deaths in 2016, an 18 % improve over the earlier yr.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a nationwide commerce affiliation, mentioned the proposal may divert cash for growing new non-opioid painkillers and medication-assisted habit therapies.

“It’s clear that this proposed tax ignores all the factors that led to this public health crisis, including the substantial influx of heroin, counterfeit fentanyl and other illegal drugs, and fails to recognize existing funding available for treatment, prevention and other important programs to help communities,” affiliation spokesman Nick McGee mentioned in a press release.

Dayton’s proposed measure, half of a bigger effort to spice up therapy, entry to overdose drugs and enforcement, might be debated within the legislative session beginning Feb. 20.

“I don’t see any reason why the taxpayers should have to pay to fix this. I believe (pharmaceutical companies) owe reparations,” State Senator Chris Eaton mentioned Wednesday throughout a information convention, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Andrew Kolodny, an opioid coverage researcher at Brandeis University, mentioned the tax is an efficient approach to improve therapy.

“I don’t think we’re going to see overdose deaths start to come down until we do a better job of expanding access to effective outpatient treatment,” he mentioned.

Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Susan Thomas and Lisa Shumaker

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