An emergency bill to tweak a year-old law to allow pharmacists to sell medicine to stop an opiate overdose over the counter and without a prescription became law last week without the governor’s signature.
Gov. Paul LePage passed on signing an after-deadline bill submitted in early May and endorsed by more than two-thirds of the Legislature that fixed language in an existing law to permit sales of the opiate antidote naloxone, which is commonly sold as Narcan nasal spray, at pharmacies without a prescription.
As written, the original bill — introduced last year by Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport — still required would-be customers to have a prescription. That led Rep. Karen Vachon, R-Scarborough, to submit the amendment two months ago.
LePage, who also unsuccessfully vetoed the original bill, has said that Narcan “does not truly save lives, it merely extends them until the next overdose.”
The bill is an effort to battle the state’s drug overdose epidemic, which claimed the lives of 376 people in 2016, 313 of whom had used an opiate.
The Maine Board of Pharmacy is now tasked with writing the rules for the amended law, which also adds required training for pharmacists and customers.