Minnesota - Oppose HF 400 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

Minnesota - Oppose HF 400

January 30, 2019

Minnesota State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
St. Paul, MN 55155

Dear Legislators,

You are scheduled to consider HF 400, which would impose significant burdens on pharmaceutical manufacturers and fail to address the underlying causes of the opioid crisis.  The legislation would require each Schedule II-IV opiate manufacturer to pay an annual registration fee as part of a $12 million overall assessment statewide.

On behalf of the 35,599 members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in Minnesota, I ask that you oppose HF 400.

CCAGW understands and appreciates your concern regarding the best way to grapple with the horror of opioid addiction.  However, singling out pharmaceutical manufacturers ignores the most significant players and factors in this crisis. 

According to a December 26, 2017, Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder, “The U.S. Opioid Epidemic,” many health experts attribute the crisis to over-prescribing by physicians.  Some healthcare providers feel pressure to prescribe them, as opposed to using other means such as physical therapy or acupuncture, either from their superiors or their patients.  In some cases, other treatments were more expensive or not available.  Furthermore, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s September 2017 report, “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” 53 percent of people aged 12 or older who misused an opioid bought or stole from, or were given the drug by, a friend or relative.

Moreover, some of the worst effects of the opioid crisis have resulted from illegal drugs, including an influx of cheap heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, much of which comes from drug gangs originating in other countries.  Law-abiding pharmaceutical manufacturers should not be targeted and taxed for these unlawful activities. 

This legislation would impose voluminous, costly mandates on pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesalers.  They would be required to report every sale and delivery of any opiate to any practitioner or medical facility within the state.  Forcing producers to turn over reams of sensitive data, some of which is proprietary, will not reduce the prescription of or dependency on opioids, but it will create and expand the authority of bureaucrats and exacerbate government overreach. 

Given the fee and regulatory hurdles, a pharmaceutical company could decide not to sell its opioid product in the state at all, which would hurt the patients who truly need pain relief, including those suffering from cancer and those in hospice care.

The opioid crisis requires comprehensive solutions that involve all stakeholders and entire communities.  HF 400 offers a one-sided approach that will punish only pharmaceutical manufacturers and fail to address the more significant causes of the problem, which are the influx of illegal drugs, and the over-prescription and illegal procurement of opioids.

I urge you to vote against HF 400.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Schatz

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