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Maine panel backs drug-overdose antidote bill

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 24, 2014 at 6:33 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine legislative committee has endorsed a bill that seeks to expand access to a drug which counteracts the effects of heroin and prescription painkillers to prevent overdoses.

In a 7-4 vote, the Democratic-controlled Health and Human Services Committee supported the bill backed by Democratic Rep. Sara Gideon of Freeport that allows health care professionals to prescribe naloxone to a family member or caregiver of addicts. It would also allow more medical personnel, police officers and firefighters to also administer the drug.

Republican lawmakers sought to amend the bill to address only emergency responders and law enforcement, but it was rejected by the full committee. Republican Rep. Deborah Sanderson says she's concerned that providing naloxone to those who may not know how to administer the drug could be dangerous.

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