Gov. LePage Vetoes Naloxone Bill, LD 1547

Gov. LePage Vetoes Naloxone Bill, LD 1547

Created on: Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Author: Peter MIchaud

Last week Governor Paul LePage vetoed LD 1547, An Act to Facilitate Access to Naloxone Hydrochloride. The bill would allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone to persons at risk of experiencing opioid related overdoses as well as to friends and immediate family members of such persons and to first responders.

In his veto message Governor LePage stated, “Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose. 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.” He went on to say that truly fighting the heroin crisis in Maine will require increased interdiction, expanded education and prevention efforts, and addressing opioid prescribing practices.

The veto has prompted reactions from Maine and around the country. Writing in the Portland Press Herald, Dr. Joseph Valdez, an addiction specialist from Mercy Hospital said, “There is no doubt in my mind that LePage’s decision to veto bill L.D. 1547 will needlessly endanger the lives of Mainers. It calls into question his ability to lead our state during a time of unprecedented public health crisis.” MMA President Dr. Brian Pierce said, "The Governor missed an opportunity to remove needless government regulation (a prescription requirement) from a medicine that has proven safe, effective and lifesaving."

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen, keynote speaker at the recent QC2016 conference in Augusta, said in a statement, “By vetoing this Bill, Governor LePage is perpetuating a dangerous myth: that saving someone’s life with naloxone will only foster addiction. This is unscientific, inhumane, and ill-informed.”

In a letter addressed to legislative leaders, the American Society of Addiction Medicine said, “Contrary to the Governor’s objections, expanding access to naloxone in Maine will most certainly save lives. Naloxone is a fast-acting, inexpensive, non-addictive medication.” James Madara, MD, the Executive Vice President of the American Medical Association, wrote to those same legislators, “The governor’s reasons for vetoing LD 1547 have been raised before, and thankfully, the medical and behavioral research stands in opposition to the myths.”

The Legislature is reconvening this Friday, April 29th, to consider overriding this and other gubernatorial vetoes. MMA members who may wish to express their views on this issue to their legislators may call their Representatives at (800) 423-2900 and their Senators at (800) 423-6900. Listings of Representatives and Senators for all Maine districts may be found on the Legislature’s website,

As always, we invite comments below.

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