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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 19, 2018 08:29 AM
From: Representative Ed Gainey
To: All House members
Subject: Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Fund
Colleagues, in light of our commendable bipartisan efforts to enact meaningful legislation to curb the opioid and heroin epidemic in the Commonwealth, I believe that we need to and can do more to prevent our children and young adults from becoming trapped in the deadly cycle of illicit drug use and to treat people with substance use disorder. Consequently, I will introduce a legislative proposal that would impose an opioid tax upon the distribution of opioids in the Commonwealth.

As stipulated in my legislative proposal, the opioid tax rate would be set at a rate of $0.01 per milligram of active opioid ingredient, and would be collected from the manufacturer by the wholesaler and paid to the Department of Revenue. The money collected by Revenue would be deposited into the Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Fund. Money deposited into the Fund would be used to provide the financial resources for substance use prevention education and treatment programs. Other provisions of the proposal would provide a rebate to cancer and hospice patients and workers’ compensation claimants. Moreover, opioid drugs that are used exclusively to treat substance use disorder, as part of a medical assisted treatment protocol, would be exempt from the opioid tax.

Although opinions on an opioid tax are not uniform, data on the opioid and heroin crisis are not ambiguous, and there is no indication that abuse and overdose rates have declined. It is a fact, however, that for 2017, the DEA (Philadelphia Division) reported 5,456 drug-related overdose deaths in this Commonwealth. These deaths are preventable. The revenue generated from an opioid tax would help fund treatment services for our constituents who struggle with substance use disorder, and, thereby, save lives.

I thank you in advance for joining me as a sponsor of this legislative proposal.