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Minnesota House OKs bill to make drug companies pay for cost of opioid crisis

Manufacturers and wholesalers would be responsible for $20 million annually.

The toll of the opioid crisis - both in dollars and lives - continues to rise in Minnesota, and some state lawmakers want prescription drug manufacturers and distributors to help pay for a solution.

The Minnesota House Monday evening passed a bill that would generate $20 million a year to fund prevention and education programs meant to slow the opioid crisis, as well as pay for intervention, treatment, and recovery, according to Session Daily.

The state would get this money by raising manufacturers' fees and wholesalers' fees, with the amount each company pays tied to its sales and distribution footprint in Minnesota.

The bill, sponsored by DFL Rep. Liz Olson of Duluth, passed 94-34 with bipartisan support. There is no direct companion bill in the state Senate, Session Daily notes, so it faces an uncertain future.

According to Session Daily, some Republicans that voted against it said the funding source was the sticking point – and they would have supported it had there been a different way to raise the money. But supporters argue this bill takes the financial burden off taxpayers.

The opioid crisis has hit Minnesota, along with the rest of the U.S., incredibly hard.

A report recently released by the state's Department of Health found there were 422 deaths from opioids in 2017, continuing a rise seen since the start of the millennium.

In 2017, 20 Minnesota counties sued pharmaceutical manufacturers to recoup some of the costs incurred by the taxpayers to deal with the opioid crisis.

Opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 deaths in 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes. Of those, 40 percent involved a prescription opioid, which became more prevalent in the '90s when pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community that opioid pain relievers were not addictive.

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