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Pew: Making Big Opioid Pharma Pay

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As discussed in "Big Opioid Pharma = Big Tobacco?" there are attempts from around the country to hold Big Opioid Pharma (BOP) accountable for its part in the #opioid epidemic. Now a slightly different question: Should BOP directly pay to #CleanUpTheMess? At least two states think so, and this could be a trend.

Mark Pew

Mark Pew

First, the governor and lieutenant governor of Minnesota advocated last week for the Opioid Stewardship Program. This would "require the pharmaceutical companies to contribute a penny a pill to help fund our attack on this epidemic." According to their math, this would generate $42 million every two years that would be "dedicated exclusively to opiate abuse prevention and treatment in Minnesota."

Minnesota has been very serious about dealing with the opioid epidemic for the last few years — just read their comprehensive "Efforts Already Underway in Minnesota" list that addresses prevention, emergency response, treatment and recovery, and participation in the National Governors Association.

Because of their efforts and these strongly worded public statements, this will obviously be a legislative priority for the executive branch in 2018. Please read more about it, and if you're a Minnesota citizen, communicate your interest in this subject to your legislator.

Second, the Ohio attorney general published a letter on Oct. 30 directed at BOP. It is an outstanding letter where he outlines the issue in Ohio that mirrors that of other states. He then calls BOP's bluff of concern and gives it 30 days (i.e., the end of November) to meet with him "to begin building a response that will immediately start saving lives and preventing future deaths and suffering." He expects the meeting to be a "substantive meeting with real terms, real plans, and real money behind it," and then lists his expectations of:

" ... education for prescribers, prevention for school children, resources for treatment, repayment to consumers and the state for money spent on inappropriately prescribed drugs, and the medications and counseling needed to address the resulting addiction."

How will BOP respond? Will it actively lobby against Minnesota's Opioid Stewardship Program? Will it ignore the Ohio attorney general's invitation to meet? Or will it engage and help #CleanUpTheMess

We are watching.

Mark Pew is a national speaker and author on chronic pain and appropriate treatment, as well as senior vice president of Prium, a medical managed care provider for the workers' compensation industry. This post is republished with permission from his Rx Professor blog.

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