Once again, a bill has been introduced that would require companies to pay a tax on the amount of opioids they make or import, and the funds would be used by the federal government to establish abuse prevention and treatment centers.
The latest bid is from Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), who first introduced such a bill last December, and follows similar moves by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), whose most recent bill arrived in March. Their initial efforts went nowhere and it is unclear if these latest attempts will fare any better.
Nonetheless, the idea is provocative, and comes as a growing number of city, county, and state governments sue drug makers to recover money spent on pills and treatment.
The tax is estimated to raise about $2 billion, which one expert says would be a good start. Dr. Andrew Kolodny, who heads the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University, estimates $6 billion is needed to “clean up the mess” made by drug makers and to ensure adequate treatment.
“Given the profits made from selling these products, despite the known risks, having the companies cover a portion of the harm is sensible,” added Dr. Lewis Nelson, who chairs the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
Not everyone is so sure. Dr. Jonathan Gavras, chief medical officer, at Prime Therapeutics, a pharmacy benefits manager, warned that a tax “adds more cost to the system, and [the companies] will pass that on [to payers and consumers] at some point.”
What do you think?