Maine Governor Wants Overdose Survivors To Pay For Narcan

By Victoria Kim 05/09/17

The controversial governor has a rocky history with naloxone, which he believes is more enabling than helpful. 

Governor Paul LePage
Maine Governor Paul LePage Photo via YouTube

Maine’s ever charming Governor Paul LePage isn’t through pissing off the recovery community. The same governor who said “naloxone does not truly save lives” has now put forth a proposal to charge overdose survivors the price of the drug used to revive them. 

LePage’s proposed bill “An Act To Require That Municipalities and Counties Recover The Cost of Opioid Antagonist Treatment From Repeat Recipients” would require Maine communities to try to get back the cost of Narcan from people who receive the overdose antidote more than one time. Those municipalities that fail to pursue the money would be hit with a fine of $1,000.

Specifically, the governor’s bill would require authorities who dispense naloxone to “make all reasonable efforts to identify whether that individual has previously been administered an opioid antagonist” and to “make all reasonable efforts to recover the cost of the dose administered if it is not the first opioid antagonist administered to the individual,” according to the Bangor Daily News.

Maine is averaging more than one drug death per day. Last year, the state reported a total of 378 drug overdose deaths in 2016—313 of those were attributed to opioids, with many of them involving fentanyl. 

The governor’s proposal is shocking to people like Dr. Noah Nesin, vice president of medical affairs at Penobscot Community Health Care, who said to the BDN after reading the bill, “If a person suffers more than one cardiac arrest will they have to pay for the second use of a defibrillator?”

LePage believes naloxone is more harmful and enabling than helpful for people with substance use disorder. The governor vetoed a bill to get police and firefighters in the state to carry the OD antidote, and to make the drug available in pharmacies without a prescription, but the Maine Legislature overrode his decision in April 2016.

In his decision to veto the bill, LePage said at the time, “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.”

A spokesperson for the Maine Attorney General’s Office told the BDN, “We have supplied nearly 1,500 units [of intranasal Narcan sprays] to 45 law enforcement agencies in Maine. These agencies have reported to us that they have used it 122 times to revive people who have overdosed and been found on the brink of death.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr