Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has proposed a “penny-a-pill” program in which drug companies would have to pay the state an extra penny for every pill prescribed in the state. The money raised from this tax would go towards an opioid stewardship program that provides opioid prevention, treatment and recovery services.
Gov. Dayton said the program may be able to generate $20 million a year.
“You can call it whatever you want,” Dayton said. “It means that they’re going to pay for the product they’re producing, which is causing this epidemic.”
According to data, there were 395 opioid overdose deaths in Minnesota in 2016. That number represents an 18 percent increase from the previous year, and 194 of the 395 deaths were linked to prescription opioids. The CDC also notes that there are 47 opioid scripts written for every 100 Minnesotans.
One Of Many Changes
The penny-a-pill program is just one of a number of changes aimed at reducing the number of opioid overdoses and deaths here in Minnesota. Two months ago, the state announced new guidelines that affect how area physicians write prescriptions for painkillers. The new guidelines suggest that physicians should:
- Prescribe the lowest effective dose and duration of opioids when used for acute pain.
- Monitor the patients closely, including prescribing opioids in multiples of seven days.
- Avoid initiating chronic opioid therapy, make it so long term prescriptions would include face-to-face visits with the provider at least every three months.
Additionally, Minnesota wants to renew the focus on educating physicians, patients and their families on the potential dangers of opioids, as well as how to spot the signs of a problem.
“One opioid prescription can start the downward spiral in the right person,” said Dr. Rahul Koranne, Chief Medical Officer for the Minnesota Hospital Association.
Minnesota is actually one of the better states in the US when it comes to regulating prescription opiods. The state prescribes the fifth fewest opioids in the nation, which speaks volumes considering there are 47 scripts written per 100 Minnesotans.
Do you think the penny-a-pill program is a good idea? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.