by Kate M. Nicholson and Sally Satel: For Complete Post, Click Here…
The U.S. is suffering not one epidemic, but two: The opioid crisis continues to rage through the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, opioid deaths surged 30 percent to 93,000, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just announced, due largely to fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid trafficked from Mexico and China. Federal action to help Americans combat substance abuse is urgently needed.
But a sin tax imposed in a new bipartisan Senate bill, The Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act, is sorely misguided, robbing pain patient Peter to treat addiction patient Paul.
Introduced by Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), along with ten co-sponsors including Senators Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the bill would establish a tax on sales of opioids (“stewardship fee”) of one cent per milligram. The revenue would be earmarked to fund drug treatment.
New York State tried an opioid sin tax; the results were not encouraging. In 2019, it imposed taxes and fees on opioid manufacturers and pharmaceutical distributors that deliver opioids to pharmacies and hospitals. According to Kaiser Health News, “scores of manufacturers and wholesalers stopped selling opioids in New York,” among them Epic Pharma, a manufacturer, and Independent Pharmacy Cooperative, a wholesaler. AvKARE and Lupin Pharmaceuticals no longer ship to New York.