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Legislation could make Delaware the first state to charge drug makers impact fee

Delaware Public Media

Drug manufacturers may have to start paying a fee for opioids dispensed in Delaware.

Delaware could become the first state in the U.S. to levy an impact fee on opioid drug manufacturers.

Under legislation sponsored by State Sen. Stephanie Hansen, the state would bill them a penny per every morphine milligram equivalent of a brand name opioid dispensed in Delaware. The fee falls to a quarter of a penny for generic opioids.

Critics say the bill doesn’t stop manufacturers from passing the fee through to consumers. Hansen said a federal court ruling striking down a New York law with that language forced her to remove that provision.

But she set the tax low to discourage them from passing it to consumers.

“Hopefully, because we have set this so low, I mean really 4 cents a pill, 4 cents a pill," she said. "Hopefully they will recognize that this is really a bill that’s purpose is fairness and equity.”

New York State is appealing the court ruling.

Critics also say the bill may lead to a shortage of opioids in the state. The Middletown Democrat said she expects some opposition to her legislation from those who would be subject to the tax.

“They have been a part of creating a huge public health problem and this is a way that they can come to the table and they can be participatory in this and they can contribute to the solution,” she said.

Hansen estimates the fee could raise about $8 million over the next three years. The revenue would go into a separate fund for drug treatment and prevention efforts.

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