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  • Rep. Gideon’s measure would increase access to overdose reversal drug

    Bill would help put the life-saving overdose antidote naloxone in the hands of first responders

     A measure by Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon would put the life-saving overdose reversal drug naloxone in the hands of more first responders.

    “We are experiencing a public health crisis in our state, which is taking lives at a tragic, alarming and growing rate,” said Gideon, D-Freeport. “Naloxone saves lives. It’s a crucial tool to prevent overdose deaths. This bill is a crucial part of a comprehensive approach to addressing our addiction epidemic.”

    The measure, LD 1547, enables the Maine Attorney General’s Office to facilitate the bulk purchase of naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses, in order to make the drug more accessible to municipalities. That will make it easier and more affordable for cities and towns to put naloxone in the hands of first responders who can use it to save lives.

    According to the Attorney General’s office, more than 200 Mainers died of a drug overdose in 2014. In the first nine months of 2015, there were 174 overdose deaths, putting the state on track to reach between 230 and 250 overdose deaths last year.

    Gideon sponsored emergency legislation passed in 2014 that allowed first responders with training to administer naloxone in order to prevent overdose deaths. Maine lawmakers approved an additional measure to expand access to the antidote sponsored by Rep. Henry Beck, D-Waterville, last year. Since 2001, 16 other states have also passed laws making it easier to prescribe, dispense and administer naloxone.

    Also known by its trade name, Narcan, naloxone is not addictive and does not produce euphoria. It has no effect if there are no narcotics in a person’s system.

    The bill was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee, which will schedule a public hearing in the coming weeks.

    Gideon is serving her second term in the Maine House.  She represents Freeport and part of Pownal.