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Shortage Of Overdose Antidote Hinders Some Of Maine's Harm Reduction Efforts

Opioid Crisis Overdose Antidote
Keith Srakocic
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 file photo, a fire medic holds a box containing naloxone hydrochloride which is carried in all their department's emergency response vehicles, in Akron, Ohio. Doctors who prescribe opioid painkillers should tell their patients about a potentially life-saving medication that can reverse drug overdoses, according to new federal guidelines issued Thursday, July 23, 2020.
Updated: August 19, 2021 at 2:11 PM EDT
A spokesperson for the Health Equity Alliance says the organization is not limiting the amount of naloxone given out at this time.

Some harm reduction organizations in Maine have been forced to limit distribution of the opioid-overdose reversal drug naloxone amid a nationwide shortage.

The Washington Post reports that a manufacturing issue at Pfizer is to blame, and the company likely won't be able to meet demand until February.

Jill Henderson of the Health Equity Alliance, which has five locations in Maine, says to preserve naloxone supply they're recommending that people use fentanyl test strips to prevent overdoses.

"A large amount of the overdoses that are going on have fentanyl related to them. So we encourage people to test their supply before they use," Henderson says.

A spokesperson for the Maine attorney general's office says their ability to distribute naloxone nasal spray to law enforcement agencies has not been affected by the shortage.

Drug overdose deaths have been increasing in Maine. And state data show that in the first half of this year, naloxone was administered nearly two-thousand times, compared with roughly 1,200 times during the same timeframe last year. That's about a 60% increase