The Maine Senate has resuscitated a bill that expands access to the lifesaving drug naloxone hydrochloride, which can be successfully used to stop an opioid overdose in its tracks.
Last week, the bill — LD 1547, “An Act to Facilitate Access to Naloxone Hydrochloride — failed an enactment vote in the House, where it won majority support, but not the two-thirds support it needed to pass as an emergency measure.
The Senate on Wednesday successfully passed the bill with a unanimous vote after stripping it of its emergency clause. It now returns to the House, where it can be enacted with a simple majority vote.
“You can’t treat people suffering with addiction if they’re not alive,” said Sen. Anne Haskell, D-Portland, the ranking Senate Democrat on the Health and Human Services Committee. “We know that naloxone saves lives. If this bill prevents just one Mainer from losing their battle with substance use, it’s worth it.”
The bill, sponsored by House Majority Whip Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, permits pharmacists to provide naloxone without a prescription to eligible individuals, including addicts’ family members and friends, who can respond to an opiate overdose more quickly than emergency responders.
That faster response time can be the difference between life and death.
According to the Attorney General, 272 people died in Maine as the result of overdosing in 2015. That’s a 31 percent jump over the previous year.