House advances Dodge bill to increase access to lifesaving drug

Fri, 04/01/2022 - 8:45pm

AUGUSTA — The Maine House voted Thursday to give initial approval to a measure sponsored by Rep. Jan Dodge, D-Belfast, that would increase the availability of intranasal naloxone in community and corrections settings.

As amended by the Health and Human Services Committee, and in consultation with Gordon Smith, the Mills administration’s director of opioid response, LD 1428 would authorize law enforcement officers, corrections officers and municipal firefighters to administer or dispense naloxone, a lifesaving drug designed to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.

The bill also removes a prior requirement that a corrections officer possess a certificate to administer naloxone.

“I am thankful for the diligent work of the Health and Human Services Committee on this bill, and for the support and expertise Gordon Smith’s team provided,” said Rep. Dodge. “My hope is that this initiative will have a direct impact on those in need and that progress will continue to be made in distributing this lifesaving drug more widely.”

Maine has been significantly impacted by the opioid epidemic. Between 2010 and 2019, almost 2,700 lives were lost to an opioid-related overdose, according to a news release. In 2021, the Mills administration reported that between the period of January 2020 and November 2020, naloxone reversed 1,136 opioid overdoses.

The measure faces further votes in the House and Senate.

Dodge is serving her second term in the Maine House and sits on the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. She represents Belfast, Northport and Waldo.