Patients struggle to find prescription opioids after NY tax drives out suppliers

Patients in New York who rely on opioid analgesics to manage chronic pain say they have been affected by the state's decision in July 2019 to enforce an excise tax on many opioids. The goal of the tax was to penalize drugmakers for their role in the opioid epidemic and to generate funding for treatment programs.

Patients in New York who rely on opioid analgesics to manage chronic pain say they have been affected by the state's decision in July 2019 to enforce an excise tax on many opioids. The goal of the tax was to penalize drugmakers for their role in the opioid epidemic and to generate funding for treatment programs. To avoid paying the tax, however, many manufacturers and wholesalers stopped selling opioids in the state. Instead of the anticipated $100 million, the tax generated less than $30 million in revenue, according to two lawmakers. None of that money was allocated for substance abuse programs, they said. The tax follows efforts by federal and New York state officials to curb the use of prescription opioids, whose supply had already been pared down. As certain medications become scarce or unavailable, patients are suffering. Instead of affecting manufacturers, the bulk of the burden seems to have fallen on pharmacies that can no longer afford or access the powerful drugs. Independent Pharmacy Cooperative, a wholesaler, says it no longer sells medications subject to the tax, but continues to sell those that are exempt, which include methadone, buprenorphine, and morphine. AvKARE and Lupin Pharmaceuticals said they no longer ship opioid analgesics to New York.