New York Tries To Tax Prescription Opioids Again

Last Updated: April 11, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

The state of New York passed a bill on April 1 creating a tax on opioid medications. This bill was the second bill that taxed opioids. The first bill was declared unconstitutional because it affected other states. According to New York governor Andrew Cuomo, this tax is intended to help reduce the severity of the opioid epidemic in the state of New York.

In the last few years, the country gradually recognized the current opioid epidemic that results in approximately 130 people dying every day from an opioid overdose. This realization led several states and the federal government to explore new ways of reducing the use of opioids and promoting measures to treat the health crisis.

The bill that New York passed is an attempt to help with the opioid crisis. This bill would allow the state of New York to tax manufacturers of opioids and would allow New York to create a fund with this tax money which would be used to help promote treatments for individuals addicted to opioids and to fund solutions for the opioid crisis in New York.

A similar bill, passed in April of 2018, was struck down by a federal judge who ruled that the bill was unconstitutional. The bill was determined to be unconstitutional because it taxed manufacturers on opioids that they sold in other states besides New York – something that New York was not legally allowed to do.

The new bill only affects opioids sold in New York. This modification makes this bill much less likely to face any significant legal challenges and will allow it to be enacted.

While this bill was passed, it is still quite controversial. This bill taxes opioid pain medications, which are medications that people who use them often depend on. While Governor Cuomo argued that the tax is on the opioid manufacturers, many people are concerned that the increased cost will force the manufacturers to raise their prices to continue to stay in business. This adjustment will make the end users of the medications the people who pay the tax.

The concerns with this new bill include not only the increased costs for patients who need opioid medications but also the concern that it may push more people towards dangerous street drugs if they cannot afford their prescriptions. People against the bill argue that the potentially increased price of opioids due to the new tax will likely hurt, not help, the opioid crisis in New York, while negatively affecting patients who are using opioid medications correctly.