PORTLAND, Maine - Research by the Maine Medical Center has found that many patients considered at high risk for opioid overdose were not prescribed an overdose-reversing drug.

Boom In Overdose-Reversing Drug Is Tied To Fewer Drug Deaths

Aug 7, 2019
Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

NEW YORK — Prescriptions of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone are soaring, and experts say that could be a reason overdose deaths have stopped rising for the first time in nearly three decades.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The governor of Maine is developing a program that would stock all the state's high schools and middle schools with the overdose antidote drug, naloxone.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press/file

Gov. Paul LePage on Thursday approved new rules that would increase access to naloxone, the drug that can reverse opioid overdoses.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Board of Pharmacy is set to discuss making an overdose-reversing drug available without a prescription.
Maine lawmakers in 2016 passed a bill to make naloxone available without a doctor's prescription, but the law languished as regulators said lawmakers needed to change its wording for it to become effective.
Lawmakers fixed the law last year, but the latest rules have stalled for months.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine Gov. Paul LePage said people who're not old enough to buy cigarettes shouldn't have access to the overdose antidote naloxone at pharmacies.
The Republican governor told New England Cable News that he opposes the 18-year-old age threshold in the rules because Maine has raised the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. LePage said he believed the age for naloxone should also be 21.
The naloxone law was passed last year, but the rules have stalled.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press/file

Maine is one of 39 states that permit the dispensing of the anti-overdose drug naloxone to opioid addicts without a doctor's prescription. But while state regulators issued rules last August to provide guidance to pharmacists selling the drug, they have yet to be approved by Gov. Paul LePage.

The Board of Pharmacy says it will wait for a response from LePage before instructing pharmacists on the new policy  - even though it's not legally obligated to do so. 

A vial of Naloxone, which can be used to block the potentially fatal effects of an opioid overdose, is shown Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at an outpatient pharmacy at the University of Washington.
Ted S. Warren / AP Photo/File

Governor LePage and Attorney General Janet Mills have clashed on plenty of issues, but Mills says the governor’s critics misunderstand how the rulemaking process works and who has the final say.

Several lawmakers and the Maine Democratic party are blaming Gov. LePage for failing to implement a state law to allow the dispensing of naloxone, a drug that counters opioids in a person’s system, without a prescription. But according to Maine’s attorney general that criticism is misdirected.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's governor still hasn't approved new rules that allow pharmacists to dispense the overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription, despite regulators approving the policy five months ago.
A spokeswoman for Republican Gov. Paul LePage told The Portland Press Herald Friday the rules are still in the governor's office. She did not provide a reason for the delay.
LePage has voiced his opposition to the bill, previously saying naloxone only perpetuates "the cycle of addiction.''

PORTLAND, Maine - An inmate at a Maine courthouse suffered an apparent opioid overdose, but officers were able to revive her through the use of the overdose reversal drug naloxone.
The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office says 26-year-old Kayla Brooks started showing signs of an overdose Wednesday while she was being detained in a holding cell. The Portland Press Herald reports she had been brought to the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland after Brooks failed to make a court appearance.

PORTLAND, Maine - The Maine Board of Pharmacy meets this week to craft rules for pharmacies to begin dispensing the overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription.

The original bill to make naloxone available over the counter passed more than a year ago but languished until the pharmacy board told lawmakers last year that the law needed to be amended.

The amended bill became law last month without the signature of Republican Gov. Paul LePage.

Stephan Savoia / Associated Press

The Maine House has rejected a bill, supported by Gov. Paul LePage, that would allow cities and towns to bill individuals for the cost of using Narcan and similar drugs to revive them during a drug overdose. The preliminary vote was 81-67.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Police and other first responders would be allowed to bill overdose patients for the cost of administering naloxone under a bill that's being considered in Augusta.

Republican Rep. Trey Stewart, of Presque Isle, says while he supports allowing police and others to  administer naloxone, he is worried about the cost of the drug.

"We don’t want to deter law enforcement agencies from carrying this, or being trained to carry this, all of which has a very steep cost. At the same time, we want to make sure the taxpayers' interests are represented in this issue.”

BANGOR, Maine - Four health care groups are working to increase access to the anti-opioid drug naloxone in the Bangor area.

Naloxone is used to treat opioid overdoses. Eastern Maine Medical Center, St. Joseph Healthcare, Acadia Hospital and Penobscot  Community Health Care are providing 500 survival kits to people who don't have the ability to pay for them.

The primary care offices and emergency departments of the organizations will be prescribing the nasal spray, as state laws require the medication be prescribed by a health care provider.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill have written the five makers of naloxone, also known as Narcan, asking them to explain the huge increases they are charging for the lifesaving drug.

Collins and McCaskill are the chair and ranking Democrat, respectively, on the Senate Aging Committee. Collins says an explanation is warranted for the huge price increases for the drug, used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.