Penny a Pill Bill to save lives

Opioid overdose deaths have risen dramatically in recent years. Last year, there were 395 opioid overdose deaths, which is an 18% increase over the previous year. Legislation was introduced in response to this dramatic increase to provide urgently needed resources for prevention and treatment services that could save lives and reverse this trend.

The funding would come from the establishment of a drug manufacturer stewardship fee of one cent per unit of drug dispensed. The penny a pill fee could raise over $20 million a year to fund a comprehensive prevention, treatment, and recovery effort that would curb opioid abuse and save lives across Minnesota – getting help and care to thousands of people who need it now.

The bill includes provisions that address other opioid related topics such as prescriptions for opiate or narcotic pain relievers and changes that expand the role of veterinarians in addressing the epidemic. Additionally, the bill adds that law enforcement officers who come into contact with individuals who are, or may be experiencing an overdose, must share certain information with the Board of Pharmacy to improve upon the data available that informs doctors and pharmacists.  Information that is part of an active investigation may be withheld from the Board until the investigation has concluded.

Efforts to address this heartbreaking epidemic are happening at every level of government; however, the manufacturers of opioids have contributed very little in proportion to their role in helping to create the problem.  This bill would alleviate some of the burden on Minnesota taxpayers by requiring the pharmaceutical industry to pitch in and do what is right.