Senate unanimously votes to enact Chipman naloxone bill
AUGUSTA —The Maine Senate unanimously voted to enact a bill by Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, to increase the long-term availability of the life-saving, anti-overdose drug naloxone on Thursday.
LD 565, “An Act to Address Maine’s Opiate Addiction Crisis,” removes a “sunset” provision included in previous legislation regarding the ability of pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription.
“More and more Mainers are dying every day from the opioid epidemic. As a Legislature, we need to do more. Families and individuals all across the state are counting on us to act, ” said Sen. Ben Chipman. “It is imperative that we make this life-saving drug more accessible to individuals struggling with addiction and their loved ones. I am pleased that my colleagues in the Legislature could come together and support this bill.”
Naloxone is an anti-overdose drug that can reverse or reduce harmful effects of an overdose. In 2016, the Legislature passed a bill that would to temporarily allow pharmacists to prescribe naloxone over-the-counter to individuals suffering from addiction and concerned friends and family. Sen. Chipman’s bill makes this change permanent.
In 2017, there were 418 drug-overdose deaths in Maine, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. Of these drug-overdose deaths, one in four occurred in Cumberland County.
Access to naloxone has repeatedly been held by Gov. LePage, who vetoed the original bill. The governor has approved proposed rules regarding the over-the-counter availability from the Maine Board of Pharmacy for individuals over the age of 21.
LD 565 received unanimous support in both the House and Senate. It will now head to the governor, who has 10 days to sign it, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.