Senate overrides LePage veto of bill to expand access to overdose antidote
AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate on Friday overwhelmingly overturned Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of LD 1547, “An Act To Provide Access to Affordable Naloxone Hydrochloride for First Responders.”
Naloxone Hydrochloride, also known by its brand name, Narcan, is a life-saving drug that can stop an opioid overdose in its tracks. The bill expands access to Narcan by permitting pharmacists to provide it without a prescription to eligible individuals, including addicts’ family members and friends, who can respond to an opiate overdose more quickly than emergency responders. That faster response time can be the difference between life and death.
The Senate overrode the governor’s veto in a 29-5 vote. Earlier in the day, the House also rejected the veto, 132-14. The bill will now become law.
According to the Attorney General, 272 people died in Maine as the result of overdosing in 2015. That’s a 31 percent jump over the previous year. In his veto letter, Gov. LePage wrote that “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.”
“This bill has always been about one thing: Saving the lives of Maine people suffering from addiction,” said Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, the lead Senate sponsor of LD 1547. “I was so pleased to see the Senate reject Gov. LePage’s belief that these Mainers are out of reach. Narcan saves lives, and making it more broadly available means more of our fellow citizens will have a second chance to get on the road to recovery.”
The bill had broad support by medical professionals, law enforcement and addiction and recovery experts.