As elsewhere in the country, Minnesota is struggling with residents under the grip of opioid addiction, both for legal prescription drugs and for illegal street drugs. To combat this problem, Tim Waltz, the Minnesota Governor, signed into law in May an opioid crisis response bill. By increasing the fees drug manufacturers and distributors pay to the state, the new law is expected to raise over $20 million dollars. The money will go for addiction prevention and treatment.
According to Waltz, quoted in the Star Tribune, the opioid epidemic has devastated communities throughout the state. He expects the new law to help families treat addiction from opioids as well as help prevent addiction in the first place. The law passed with bipartisan support in the legislature. The additional revenues will also pay for law enforcement initiatives and services at the county level to help children whose parents are affected by opioid addiction. The law was opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, but a strong tide of public support helped to propel the bill’s passage.
According to the National institute of Drug Abuse, 422 people died in 2017 from an opioid overdose in Minnesota. These deaths included overdose from prescription painkillers and illegal drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. Prescription opioid deaths in Minnesota remained steady from 2008 to 2017 with a rate of about 3.6 per 100,000 persons, even as prescription rates fell. Minnesota’s rate for opioid prescriptions is below the national average. Rates for deaths from synthetic opioids increased significantly during the past five years, nearly reaching the level of deaths from prescription painkillers.