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Opioid stewardship bill a personal commitment

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Koegel: Opioid stewardship bill a personal commitment

To the Editor:

Over the past 20 years, a silent epidemic has gripped our communities, our state, and our nation. It has stolen the lives of millions of Americans and tens of thousands more will die this year. We haven’t talked about this problem enough. We haven’t acted fast enough to address it. It’s time to talk. It’s time to act.

Opioids interact with the brain and nervous system to relieve pain. They range from the illegal (heroin) to the prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl, and others.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, opioid addiction drives the drug overdose epidemic with more than 42,000 overdose deaths related to opioids in 2016.

These are devastating numbers to read but, like the estimated $504 billion in economic costs of the opioid crisis, they’re just numbers.

This is about people.

As the impact of opioid misuse and addiction grows, more Americans will experience the fallout, whether it’s a friend, family, or themselves. My family already has.

Opioids are a personal issue for us. My brother battled addiction and two years ago I sat in an emergency room praying a bed in a detox center would open. The story ended well for us. My brother now works to help others who struggle with the same addiction. But not all families have the means to support and fund a full-throated battle against opioid addiction.

To that end, I support the opioid stewardship bill. It would impose a “penny per pill” fee on pharmaceutical manufacturers and is projected to raise $20 million a year for addiction treatment and overdose prevention.

This bill has bipartisan support, as well it should. Too many of our loved ones have been lost. Too many will be lost in the months and years ahead. We owe it to all those who fought and lost, all those who fought and won, and the ones who haven’t yet set foot on the battlefield. It’s time for all of us to get in the fight.

Erin Koegel

State Representative

Rep. Erin Koegel represents the citizens of Spring Lake Park, Blaine, and Coon Rapids in the Minnesota House of Representatives. She can be reached by email at or by phone at 651-296-5369.

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