A bill creating an opioid impact fee on drug manufacturers cleared its final legislative hurdle Thursday.
House lawmakers passed State Sen. Stephanie Hansen's (D-Middletown) bill 33-to-8. If Gov. John Carney (D) signs it, Delaware becomes the first state in the U.S. to charge drug makers for each milligram of opioid dispensed in the state. New York’s law was struck down.
State Rep. Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown) said she worries about solely blaming drug makers for the opioid epidemic, while failing to address the role the synthetic opioid fentanyl plays in heroin overdose deaths.
“We’re looking at this and saying over a period of a time we’re going to get maybe $8 million," she said. "And that’s a drop in the bucket to what we need to be investing and saving on these issues.”
House sponsor State Rep. David Bentz (D-Bear) argues that $8 million can save lives through treatment and prevention. He said he hopes lawsuits filed against drug manufacturers pan out, but does not want to wait.
Under the bill, the state would assess a penny per every morphine milligram equivalent of a brand name opioid dispensed in Delaware. The surcharge drops to a quarter of a penny for generic opioids.