Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith urge Legislature to pass “Penny a Pill” legislation, requiring pharmaceutical companies to pay for opioid abuse treatment and prevention
ST. PAUL, MN – Today, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a Nationwide Public Health Emergency. Following the President’s pronouncement, Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith released these statements concerning efforts to address opioid abuse in Minnesota.
The following is a statement from Governor Dayton:
“Every year, hundreds of Minnesotans lose their lives to opioid addiction. Since 2000, deaths caused by opioid overdoses in Minnesota have increased by 430 percent. They grew by 17 percent last year alone. We cannot allow this scourge to continue destroying lives and tearing our families apart.
“Over the last several years, the State of Minnesota, in partnership with the federal government, law enforcement, and health care providers, have greatly increased our efforts to address this crisis head-on. But we must do more, and we need significant new investments in public health efforts in order to be successful, and save lives.
“I will again call on the Legislature next Session to pass the Opioid Stewardship Program, which would require the pharmaceutical companies to contribute a penny a pill to help fund our attack on this epidemic. It is shameful that those corporate special interests were able to block this bill from even getting a hearing in the House last Session. We will continue our efforts to have this bill heard, and passed, in 2018.”
The following is a statement from Lt. Governor Smith:
“As pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars in profits, Minnesotans are dying and our communities are overwhelmed. We have taken some important first steps to address the opioid epidemic in Minnesota, but we cannot expect to make meaningful progress without a significant and sustained investment in prevention, treatment, and recovery.
“Opioid abuse is a public health crisis that demands a coordinated response. That is why The Governor and I strongly support Opioid Stewardship Program legislation. This proposal would hold pharmaceutical companies accountable and fund prevention, treatment, and recovery for opioid addiction across Minnesota. It would finally provide the resources we need to adequately address the problem.
“I look forward to working again this session with Representative Dave Baker, Senator Julie Rosen, Senator Chris Eaton, and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and Minnesotans who are deeply committed to finding a solution, and saving lives.”
About the Proposed “Penny a Pill” Opioid Stewardship Program
Both Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith again urged the Legislature today to hear and pass legislation establishing an Opioid Stewardship Program. This program would require opioid manufacturers to pay a “penny a pill” fee, which would generate $42 million every two years. These funds would be dedicated exclusively to opiate abuse prevention and treatment in Minnesota. The proposal was sponsored by State Senator Julie Rosen, State Senator Chris Eaton, and State Representative Dave Baker, and included in Governor Dayton’s 2017 Supplemental Budget proposal. Unfortunately, the bill did not receive a legislative hearing in the House of Representatives last session, and was not approved by the Legislature.
Efforts Already Underway in Minnesota
The following efforts are already underway to address opioid abuse prevention, emergency response, treatment and recovery, and more in Minnesota.
- Opioid Abuse Prevention Pilot Projects – In 2017, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature provided a $1 million one-time grant to build on a successful treatment approach, establishing opioid abuse prevention pilot projects in Minnesota. This grant will build capacity among health care and other service providers to prevent and treat opioid addiction, especially in rural Minnesota. The 2017 Health and Human Services budget also included a $1 million one-time investment for a chronic pain rehabilitation therapy demonstration project.
- Federal Strategic Prevention Framework for Prescription Drugs – In 2016, Minnesota received a $1.5 million federal grant over five years to prevent and reduce opioid abuse and reduce opioid overdoses. The grant requires that state agencies: 1) design, implement, enhance, and evaluate primary prevention efforts using evidence-based methods; 2) work with pharmaceutical and medical communities on risks of overprescribing; and 3) raise community awareness and bring opioid abuse prevention activities and education to schools, communities, parents, prescribers, and their patients.
- Limiting Opioid Prescriptions and Improving Warning Efforts – In 2017, Governor Dayton and the Legislature passed a law requiring opiate prescriptions to contain a label that says “Caution: Opioid: Risk of overdose and addiction." The bill also limits opiates to a four-day supply for certain situations of dental or ophthalmic pain but provides health care providers discretion if he/she determines that a larger quantity is needed.
- Opioid Prescribing Workgroup at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) – In 2015, the Minnesota Legislature established an Opioid Prescribing Workgroup at DHS to reduce opioid dependency and substance use due to the prescribing of opioids by health care providers. The group is developing statewide guidelines on appropriate opioid prescribing for acute pain, post-acute pain, and chronic pain, which will be published later this year. The group is also charged with developing resources for providers to communicate with patients about pain management, as well as implementing an opioid prescribing quality improvement program for health care providers whose practices do not meet required standards.
- Pharmacy Drop-Off Sites – In 2016, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed legislation allowing any Minnesota pharmacy to be a drop-off site for unused prescriptions, including opioids.
- Steve’s Law – In 2014, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature enacted "Steve’s Law,” which allows non-health care providers to administer Naloxone, a life-saving drug used to treat those who have overdosed on opioids. The bill also provides immunity from criminal and civil charges if an individual seeks emergency medical assistance in the case of a drug overdose. Immunity is also provided for the individual experiencing the overdose.
- Federal Grant for Naloxone – In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) received a federal grant ($300,000 per year) that will provide funding for the nine emergency medical services regions statewide to purchase Naloxone.
Treatment and Recovery
- Federal State Targeted Response Grants for Collaborative Treatment Efforts – Minnesota received more than $10 million in federal grants over two years, starting this fall, to help establish more collaborative treatment efforts statewide. The goal of this program is to encourage collaborative care between opioid treatment programs, health care clinics, care coordinators, and County and Tribal entities. Grants will focus on increasing provider capacity to identify and treat opioid addiction (including neonatal cases) and improving access to Naloxone to treat opioid overdoses.
- Substance Use Disorder Treatment Reform – In 2017, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature enacted new reforms to Minnesota’s substance use disorder (SUD) treatment system to move from an acute, episodic-based system to a client-centered model of care, with an emphasis on managing SUD as a chronic disease. These changes remove barriers that have prevented Minnesotans on Medical Assistance from accessing substance abuse treatment. The reform package allows patients to more quickly access services, and adds important services like withdrawal management, care coordination and peer support.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioids – In 2017, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature provided $825,000 for health care providers to purchase direct injectable drugs to treat opioid addiction. The Minnesota Department of Corrections is also developing a strategic plan to expand access to MAT for the criminal justice-system. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has also received a $6 million MAT expansion grant. The project is a partnership with the Red Lake Nation, the White Earth Nation, and Fairview Health Services.
- Integrated Care for High-Risk Pregnancies – This Legislation passed and was signed by the Governor in 2015 to support five Minnesota tribes to provide integrated services to identify and treat pregnant mothers and infants exposed to opioids, including community supports.
- National Governors Association (NGA) Prescription Drug Abuse Academy – In 2014, Minnesota was selected as one of six states to participate in a year-long prescription drug abuse academy coordinated by the National Governors Association (NGA). This led to the formation of the State Government Opioid Oversight Project (SOOP) with the Minnesota Departments of Human Services, Corrections, Education, Health, Labor and Industry, Public Safety, the State Judicial Branch, Board of Pharmacy, Board of Medical Practice, Board of Dentistry, Board of Nursing and Board of Podiatry. The group meets regularly to coordinate opioid-related activities across state government.
- National Governors Association (NGA) Policy Academy – In 2016, Minnesota participated in a National Governors Association (NGA) program focused on coordinating public safety and public health data on opioid overdoses. This led to Governor Dayton’s 2017 budget proposal for $200,000 to improve data coordination between public health and public safety organizations (described in more detail below).
Proposals Not Funded by the Legislature
Governor Dayton also made the following proposals to address the opioid crisis in Minnesota. Unfortunately, these proposals have not been approved by the Legislature.
- “Penny a Pill” Opioid Stewardship Program – This program would require opioid manufacturers to pay a “penny a pill” fee, which would generate $42 million every two years. These funds would be dedicated exclusively to opiate abuse prevention and treatment in Minnesota. The proposal was sponsored by State Senator Julie Rosen, State Senator Chris Eaton, and State Representative Dave Baker, and included in Governor Dayton’s 2017 Supplemental Budget proposal. Unfortunately, the bill did not receive a legislative hearing in the House last session, and was not approved by the Legislature.
- Funding to Prevent Opioid Overdoses in American Indian Communities – In 2017, based on feedback from the Opioid Summit, Governor Dayton proposed a $4 million investment to fund prevention programs to reduce opioid abuse among Minnesota’s Tribal Nations and urban American Indian communities. Unfortunately, this proposal was not funded by the Legislature.
- Improved Data Coordination between Public Health and Public Safety Organizations – In 2017, Governor Dayton’s budget proposal included $200,000 every two years to fund a drug analyst position at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). This position would allow the BCA to begin work monitoring the drug threat to Minnesota, and to work closely with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and other state and local agencies to allow more timely deployment of opioid response resources throughout the state. This proposal has been requested by law enforcement organizations. Unfortunately, this proposal was not funded by the Legislature. Nonetheless, the BCA is working with MDH on options to more effectively share data on opioids, at the request of Minnesota law enforcement.
- Expanded Violent Crime Enforcement Teams (VCET) – In 2017, Governor Dayton proposed investing $1 million in Violent Crime Enforcement Teams (VCET). This founding would expand the number and capacity of multijurisdictional task forces investigating narcotics, gangs, and violent crime statewide. Unfortunately, this proposal was not funded by the Legislature.