Senator Eichorn, Senate, approve a historic bill to combat opioid addiction

The Minnesota Senate tonight took a monumental step toward combatting Minnesota’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis by overwhelmingly approving Senate File 751, the opioid stewardship fund bill. The legislation creates a new Opiate Epidemic Response Account that will invest in innovative treatment and social service programs, improve public awareness, and apply stronger rules to prescriptions and refills. The account will be funded by $21 million in fees collected from pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors.

“Our state is struggling with a crisis, and Minnesotans deserve to receive the care they need to save their own lives or the lives of others,” said Senator Justin Eichorn (R-Grand Rapids). “This is an issue that we all need to come together to solve, the responsibility shouldn’t just fall on our families or our local governments but should also include companies that make, market, and sell opioids. I am proud to support this reasonable reform and hope that it will help save lives and stop the opioid epidemic in this state.”

The fees on distributors and manufacturers will remain in place for a minimum of five years. After five years, the fees will only be reduced once the state collects $250 million. This total can be captured through any combination of fees and lawsuit settlement money.

Highlights of the legislation:

• Significant funding for county-administered social services to help kids who have been subjected to child abuse or neglect due to parental addiction.
• Stronger restrictions on opiate prescriptions and refills.
• Introduces a prescription monitoring program to prevent overprescribing and “doctor shopping.”
• Public awareness, prevention, and education programs.
• Statewide access to effective treatment and recovery services.
• Continuing education for opioid prescribers.
• Research and development of evidence-based treatment programs.
• Stronger reporting by pharmaceutical companies.
• Funding for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to hire additional drug scientists and agents.
• Funding for the Results First Initiative to hire a dedicated team of data scientists to work with opioid grant recipients to guarantee the effectiveness of their programs.