A package of Narcan is seen at the Walgreens on Broadway in Bangor, July 20, 2017. Credit: Ashley L. Conti

Rules that would make it easier to access the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone have been approved by Gov. Paul LePage, after the Board of Pharmacy voted Thursday morning to raise the age limit to buy the drug from 18 to 21.

The board made the decision Thursday as part of an effort to make the drug available without a doctor’s prescription.

Democrats have criticized both the board and LePage for failing to move forward on rules that were first approved by the board six months ago.

“Overdoses can strike at 18 or 19 or 29 or 54. And in every instance, at every age, we should do everything in our power to save every life possible,” House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, said in a prepared statement. “What the Board of Pharmacy did today has no basis in medical research or expert opinion, it was merely a petulant action at the behest of Gov. LePage that directly contradicts legislative intent. While I’m grateful there is finally some clarity regarding dispensation, I will continue my work to ensure the Board of Pharmacy follows the law.”

Board of Pharmacy chairman Joe Bruno said it will still take months for the rules to be adopted, because there will be a 30-day public comment period, then further review.

“We have 120 days to act on those comments, but it’s my hope that we don’t take that much time,” he said.

This report appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

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