Opioid advocates held a press conference, rally, and a hearing this week to raise awareness and advance bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid addiction and overdose crisis. According to the bill’s authors, opioids have become a public health emergency in the state. More than 400 people statewide died of opioid overdoses in 2017.
The legislation includes language to hold manufacturers and distributors accountable through a licensing fee. If passed, it is estimated the legislation will raise $20 million to help counties pay for costs associated with the opioid epidemic, including child protection services. The bill creates an Opiate Stewardship Advisory Council made of legislators and health experts who will be tasked with developing a statewide approach to combat this problem. In addition, the legislation also strengthens the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, expands access to treatment programs, and requires stronger reporting from pharmaceutical companies.
Several hundred people attended the rally to show support for sustainable and dedicated funding to combat the opioid epidemic in Minnesota. Stakeholders emphasized that this legislation will save lives and lessen the financial costs to the state and taxpayers.