Gov. Paul LePage’s opposition to legalizing a medication designed to stop drug overdose deaths gained widespread attention again Thursday night when NBC Nightly News featured LePage in its evening newscast about approval of the drug by the Food and Drug Administration.
LePage has been firmly on the record in his opposition to the use of naloxone hydrochloride, which can be administered to someone who has overdosed on heroin or a similar drug in the same manner as an Epi-pen, which is used to counteract allergic reactions, or as a nasal mist. Last year, LePage vetoed LD 1046, which would have allowed doctors to prescribe naloxone doses to addicts or their friends and family. That veto was sustained with a mostly party-line 91-52 vote in the House of Representatives, with Republicans supporting the veto.
LePage, who launched an initiative this year to increase enforcement of drug crimes, wrote in his veto letter last year that he supports efforts to curb drug addiction, especially opioids — but not by legalizing the prescription of naloxone.
“This bill would make it easier for those with substance abuse problems to push themselves to the edge, or beyond,” wrote LePage. “It provides a false sense of security that abusers are somehow safe from overdose if they have a prescription nearby. Offering temporary relief without medical or treatment oversight will not combat drug use.”
This year, the Legislature is considering another bill, LD 1686, which legalizes the use of naloxone, calls for better tracking of overdoses and authorizes naloxone to be covered by Medicaid. The bill hasn’t yet been considered by the full Legislature.
On the NBC news, LePage called legalization of naloxone “a mistake.”
“It’s an excuse to stay addicted,” said LePage, who was recorded during a press conference at the State House. “Let’s deal with the treatment, the proper treatment, and not saying ‘go overdose, and by the way I’ll be there to save you.’”