Few states have been hammered by the opioid epidemic like Maine, and it should come as no surprise that a unanimously passed bipartisan bill that aims to save lives by increasing access to anti-overdose medication was vetoed by GOP Gov. Paul LePage, who figures the state is just better off if smack addicts die.
Maine already allows family members of addicts to receive prescriptions for naloxone hydrochloride – also commonly known by the brand name Narcan – which quickly counteracts the potentially deadly effects of an opiate overdose. The bill, L.D. 1547, aims to make the antidote even more readily available by allowing a pharmacist to dispense naloxone without a prescription to individuals “at risk of experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose” or to a friend or family member of someone at risk.
The legislation would also allow police and fire departments to obtain a supply of naloxone and provides immunity to pharmacists or health care professionals who dispense the antidote when “acting in good faith and with reasonable care.”
But in his veto letter sent to lawmakers on Wednesday, LePage said the bill would allow pharmacists “to dispense naloxone to practically anyone who asks for it.”
“Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose,” LePage wrote, repeating a contention that has caused controversy before. “Creating a situation where an addict has a heroin needle in one hand and a shot of naloxone in the other produces a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction.”
Pharmacy chains such as Rite Aid and CVS already dispense naloxone without a prescription in other states. About 30 states allow sales of the drug without a prescription.
CVS requested the bill in Maine after receiving a letter from U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine asking the chain to expand the availability of the antidote. The bill got support from both law enforcement and health organizations during the legislative hearing.
We already know LePage is an unapologetic racist asshole who blames African-Americans for Maine's drug problem anyway even though the state's population is 95% white and less than 1.5% black, so it should come as no surprise that LePage seems to think the state's addicts are all black thugs or something.
Of course he was going to veto the bill.
However I'm betting that because the bill passed the state House and Senate easily, LePage's veto is going to bite the dust.
We'll find out.starting in May.