Nickel a pill: Mayor Whaley’s prescription painkiller surcharge plan

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Nickel a pill: Mayor Whaley’s prescription painkiller surcharge plan

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Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley proposed new state surcharges for prescription pain medicine to combat the opioid crisis. STAFF

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democratic candidate for Ohio governor, today proposed charging a nickel per dose surcharge for every prescription painkiller pill sold in the state.

State data show that 631 million doses of opioids were distributed in Ohio, and a nickel surcharge would generate $31.5 million per year to increase funding for local police and fire responders, substance abuse stabilization centers and state psychiatric hospitals, Whaley said.

“With those dollars, we will return resources to our communities they so desperately need to fight this epidemic,” she said.

Ohio would be the first state in the nation to take this action, Whaley said, though Washington and California lawmakers have proposed similar types of legislation that would tax or charge opiate makers to pay for addiction prevention and treatment programs.

Dayton was the first city in Ohio and the fourth nationwide to sue drug companies, distributors and doctors that city officials say were responsible for the crisis.

During her announcement this morning, Whaley pointed to a joint investigation by the Washington Post and 60 Minutes that found that Congress, after a large lobbying effort, weakened federal law enforcement’s ability to go after drug distributors even as opioid-related deaths surged.

A law passed by Congress made it “virtually impossible” for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from drug companies, according to the investigation.

Whaley criticized Congress for stripping power from federal law enforcement, remarking that Congress took “the E out of the DEA.”

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