AUGUSTA — A bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for their role in the opioid crisis became law without the governor’s signature over the weekend. The new law – LD 793, “An Act To Improve Accountability of Opioid Manufacturers” – allows the state to collect information from the largest opioid manufacturers and charges these manufacturers a fee to do business in Maine. The funds will be used to help pay for treatment and recovery programs.
“The opioid epidemic is about corporate greed at its worst. Drug manufacturers flooded the market with deadly opioids, bribed doctors and misled the public. They got rich, while real people died. It’s unconscionable,” said President Jackson. “This is about holding companies accountable and making sure they’re the ones paying for treatment and recovery programs, not working Mainers. If anyone should have to clean up this mess, it should be them. With this new law, Maine is on the right path.”
The new law sets a licensing fee of $55,000 for manufacturers of opioids doing business in Maine. It also establishes a product registration fee of $250,000 that applies to the largest opioid manufacturers – those selling two million or more doses in Maine. Prescriptions for medication-assisted treatment are excluded.
The new law also contains language to ensure there are no unintended consequences for patients being responsibly treated with opioids.
With the rise of the opioid epidemic, drug manufacturers have come under intense scrutiny for their role in creating and perpetuating the opioid crisis. Several reports indicate that opioid companies, such as the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma, knowingly participated in a misinformation campaign downplaying the dangers of OxyContin. Since coming onto the market in 1997, more than 200,000 people died in an opioid-related overdose. The Sackler family is worth an estimated $13 billion.
Data from the CDC indicates that Maine has been among the hardest-states hit in the country. A number of states are exploring policy options to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for their role in the opioid crisis. Maine’s law is based on a new law in Minnesota.
The new law takes effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die in April.