MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a new front in the war on addictive painkillers that the Governor of Minnesota is calling a crisis.
Within the last few hours, Gov. Mark Dayton called for new laws and big changes to fight opioids.
Dayton said that his administrations has already begun taking steps to reduce the flow of illicit opioids and improve treatment options, but he said more has to be done to save lives.
In 2016, 395 people died from opioid overdoses in Minnesota. That’s up 18 percent over 2015.
The Governor’s opioid action plan would invest $12 million each year in strategies to address opioid abuse, particularly in communities where opioid addiction is more rampant.
Take a look at this map.
It shows how opioid deaths have risen over a 16 year span.
In St. Louis County in north eastern Minnesota, there were between 1 and 5 deaths in 2000.
In 2016, that area had 21-35 deaths, only second to Ramsey and Hennepin counties.
Republican Representative Dave Baker, who lost his son to opioid addiction, spoke about the need to pass governor Dayton’s proposal.
“This is a time of action. This year is going to be the year of the opioid reform act in Minnesota. As the governor mentioned, 400 people died last year just alone in Minnesota. That’s 43,000 people in the country who died this year of this epidemic. Now, if I was standing here 10 years ago and said those numbers, I would have laughed because I would have never dreamt as a country we’d allow it to get this bad,” Baker said.
One of the specific programs included in the proposal is the Penny-A-pill stewardship program that would start in 2021. This would require opioid manufacturers to pay a stewardship fee to fund a prevention and treatment effort.
Legislators believe that would raise about $20 million a year.