ST. PAUL, MN Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is taking the opioid crisis right to manufactures and distributors.
At a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Walz announced he spoke with several pharmaceutical companies about the problem. He said he came away from the conversation “hopeful” about legislation that would ask the companies to pay up to $20 million to help curb the problem.
Gov. Walz says this isn’t about demonizing an industry. It’s about making sure opioids are prescribed properly, and not abused. He added it’s holding the manufacturers accountable and getting the proper help for those who are addicted.
Minnesota has been trying for quite some time to come up with funding to fight the crisis.
Just last year, there were multiple bills on the table that held pharmaceutical companies financially responsibly.
They ultimately got defeated due to lobbying efforts by big-pharma.
Gov. Walz said during his conversation Tuesday, he did not get the assurance that would not be the case again this year – but he is optimistic it won’t.
The conversation seems to have been a back and forth about finding common ground.
“They want to make a difference. But then they bring up the other side of it which is, ‘we don’t want you to do something that makes it more difficult for people that really need these to be able to get them. We don’t want you to do something that raises the price.’ These are all debatable issues. But they were approaching this from ‘absolutely,’ they agree that something needs to be done. They understand that they need to be part of the solution,” said Gov. Walz.
Walz added this problem didn’t occur overnight, and it won’t be fixed overnight, either. But he says passing legislation is the first step on the long road to recovering from the crisis.
There is currently legislation making its way through both the Senate and House. Gov. Walz is likely to sign any bill that makes its way through.
If the legislation is approved, the money would come from increased licensing fees on pharmaceutical companies.
About half of it would go to counties around the state, the other half would be used for treatment, education, and other preventative measures.
Our sister station WCCO was there at the news conference – you can watch the entire conference below: