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Delaware lawmakers consider creating an opioid impact fee on drug makers

Delaware Public Media

Legislation introduced by State Sen. Stephanie Hansen would create a Delaware opioid impact fee for drug producers.

Hansen’s proposal would charge manufacturers a penny on every milligram of opioids, by using a morphine milligram equivalent standard, dispensed by pharmacies. The money would go to treatment and addiction prevention.

But representatives from some Delaware state agencies are voicing concerns about possible impact of the legislation on the state’s economy or health department budget.

Department of Health and Social Services Deputy Secretary Molly Magarik voiced questions about the proposal, including whether revenue raised would be offset by a corresponding cut in DHSS’s budget.

“Where we would diminish our budget request to the General Fund because of the funds generated by the fee," she said. "It does seem to run counter to the purpose of the bill which is to provide additional money to this crisis.”

Hansen said the bill addresses funding offsets if the fee raises more money than actually needed to address the opioid crisis. But she adds she doesn’t expect that to happen.

Hansen agrees this is a novel approach to raise money to fight the epidemic. But she said average Delawareans are already paying a price for this crisis and shouldn’t have to bear the burden alone.

“We have to make sure that the people that are fueling this and help got us here to begin with have a real substantive seat at the table and a real part of the solution here and that’s what this bill is about,” she said.

Hansen also argues it’s also important to have manufacturers help foot the bill because Delawareans are already paying a price for the opioid crisis through higher health insurance rates, taxes and crime.

The impact fee wouldn’t apply to drugs prescribed by hospitals, addiction providers or for hospice care. The legislation bars drug manufacturers from passing the fee on to consumers.

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