As State of Minnesota Rolls out Comprehensive Opioid Proposal, Sen. Tina Smith Fights the Epidemic from Washington

As the state of Minnesota rolls out a set of proposals today to address opioids, U.S. Senator Tina Smith is working to tackle the crisis from Washington by cosponsoring “Penny-a-Pill” legislation that would require big pharmaceutical companies to fund solutions to the epidemic they helped create.

The Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment Act would raise funds from pharmaceutical companies to establish new addiction treatment facilities, reimburse mental health providers, expanding access to treatment programs, strengthen addiction recovery services, and build facilities to provide care for babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome.

“The opioid epidemic has been devastating to families all across Minnesota,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Health Committee. “We need to act on this emergency with the seriousness and resources it demands. And that means there needs to be a joint effort—and there needs to be funding—from states, the federal government, and the very drug companies that helped contribute to this crisis. It’s great to see the State of Minnesota taking action today, and I want to do my part in Washington. This ‘Penny-a-Pill’ bill, which builds on efforts I supported as Lieutenant Governor, would require the big pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids to fund programs that will help us tackle the epidemic. Let’s get this bill passed.”

The Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment Act, introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.),  establishes a charge onopioid pain relievers of 1 cent per milligram that would go toward improving access to substance abuse treatment. As Lieutenant Governor, Sen. Smith supported a similar Opioid Stewardship Program “Penny-a-Pill” bill, which would have raised an estimated $42 million to offset the costs of opioid programs in the state of Minnesota. In 2015, the estimated health care costs related to opioid abuse in Minnesota topped $375 million.