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Committee Recommends Bill to Help Chronic Pain Patients

A legislative committee is supporting a bill to give Maine doctors flexibility in prescribing opioid medication to patients living with chronic and severe pain.

Some patients have said they are living in agony on smaller doses of painkillers thanks to a cap on daily opioid doses that lawmakers enacted last year.

The Legislature’s Health and Human Services committee last week unanimously recommended Democratic Sen. Geoff Gratwick’s bill.

Gratwick says the cap will stay in place. But his bill would allow doctors to prescribe higher doses of opioids for documented medical need.

Maine saw 376 drug overdose deaths last year.

Mercy Hospital pain medicine physician Stephen Hull said most patients weaned off opioid painkillers greatly improve. But he estimated 10 percent could show increased signs of depression and suicidal behavior.