California Bill Would Tax Painkillers in Effort to Curb Opioid Epidemic, Fund Treatment

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A bottle of Oxycontin is seen in a Los Angeles Times file photo. (Credit: (Lawrence K. Ho/ Los Angeles Times)

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As concerns mount over prescription drug abuse, a California legislator wants to impose a tax on addictive opioid medications and use the funds to expand prevention and rehabilitation services.

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) has introduced a bill that would impose a one-cent-per-milligram surcharge on prescription opioids sold in California. The tax would be imposed on wholesalers who import the medication into the state, not at the point of sale, and it would require a two-thirds approval vote in the Legislature.

“California’s opioid epidemic has cost state taxpayers millions and the lives of too many of our sons and daughters,” McCarty said in a statement. “We must do more to help these individuals find hope and sobriety. This plan will provide counties with critical resources needed to curb the deadly cycle of opioid and heroin addiction in California.”

McCarty’s office estimates the surcharge would raise tens of millions for county drug treatment programs.

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