Gov. Dayton wants to charge drug companies a 'penny-a-pill' to curb opioid crisis

The money would be used to prevent addiction and help with treatment.
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There were 395 opioid overdoses in Minnesota in 2016, up 18 percent from 2015. It's a fatal trend that Gov. Mark Dayton hopes to curb with an action plan he released Wednesday. 

One of the key takeaways from Dayton's plan is he wants to charge drug companies that make prescription opioids pay a "penny-a-pill," which he estimates would generate $20 million annually to help support addiction prevention and treatment and recovery programs in Minnesota.

The governor's Minnesota Opioid Action Plan has four areas of focus:

  1. Prevention: increase public awareness
  2. Emergency response: provide more funding for Narcan, the drug that helps reduce death rates for opioid overdoses. 
  3. Treatment and Recovery: expanding medication-assisted treatment. 
  4. Law Enforcement: encourage opioid abusers to seek treatment; strengthen treatment programs.

"Every year, thousands of Minnesotans become addicted to opioids, and hundreds of them lose their lives due to their addictions,” Dayton wrote in a letter attached to the plan. 

“Our Administration has already taken aggressive steps to reduce the flow of illicit opioids, improve treatment options, and support the people and areas affected. But we must do far more to save lives and reduce the terrible harm to our communities." 

According to FOX 9, Minnesota has the fifth-lowest opioid prescription rate in the country. But there are 47 opioid prescriptions written for every 100 Minnesotans, according to the CDC. 

The national rate of opioid prescriptions dispensed in 2016 was 66.5 for every 100 people, the CDC adds.

State Rep. Dave Baker (R-Willmar) lost his son in 2011 to a heroin overdose. Prior to his son's heroin use, he had become addicted to painkillers prescribed to treat a back injury, says an MPR story on Baker from 2016

“I don’t want to see other families go through what my family went through when we lost our son to an opioid addiction," Baker says Governor's press release. 

Of the 395 opioid overdose deaths in Minnesota in 2016, 194 of them were the cause of prescription opioids. 

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