The Kentucky House of Representatives has voted to tax prescription opioids in an effort to close its budget gap and curb the flow of addictive drugs into the state.
If approved by the state Senate, Kentucky could become the first state in the country to tax the prescription painkillers that have spurred a wave of addiction across Appalachia.
Lawmakers say they hope the tax will reduce the number of opioids available in Kentucky. But they also plan to use the $70 million it is expected to generate each year not for drug treatment, but to pay for public schools and other services.
A spokesman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said taxing drugs people need for legitimate health issues is a problematic precedent.