Maine Gets Naloxone

Governor overridden


Maine's Republican Gov. Paul LePage seems to really want opioid users to die. After his state suffered 272 overdose deaths in 2015, the legislature sensibly and humanely passed a law allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone, a drug that can actually reverse opioid overdoses in process, without a prescription.

In April, LePage vetoed the bill. In his view, he explained, "Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose." This, he said, "serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction." But later the same month, the legislature overrode the veto by vast margins: 29–5 in the Senate and 132–14 in the House.

Naloxone is available from pharmacists without a prescription in 35 states. In recognition of its lifesaving properties—and of America's 200 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths this century—various interest groups, from patients to urban health officials, are urging the Food and Drug Administration to make it available over-the-counter nationally, with no need to deal with a pharmacist at all.