Gov. Tim Walz held a 45-minute conference call with pharmaceutical company executives Tuesday to discuss the opioid-addiction epidemic and their role in addressing it.
“It has taken an incredible human toll, as well as an economic toll on our state,” said Walz, whose staff declined to release the names of the companies or executives.
Walz said he expects to sign bipartisan legislation wending its way through both the Republican Senate and Democratic House that would spend roughly millions on prevention, enforcement and treatment.
A $20 million opioid-addiction proposal died last year, killed with the help of a swarm of industry lobbying. The drug industry objected to proposed taxes and fees intended to be used to fund programs to fight the epidemic.
Walz said the conversation with industry executives was in keeping with his campaign promise to get input from all players, and he praised the companies.
“The research and development done by these companies give us longer life expectancies, reduce pain, improve quality of life, so this is not about demonizing an industry,” he said.
But Walz also said he expects any legislation will include a funding source that will come from industry.
The drug companies are facing public outrage on several fronts, including over the opioid-addiction epidemic and price increases.
Nick McGee, spokesman for industry group PhRMA, said in a statement, “We appreciate the opportunity to continue our dialogue with the governor about how everyone, including manufacturers, prescribers, distributors, health plans, and law enforcement can work with his administration to deliver real solutions to this complex public health crisis.”