CHICAGO — A recent Executive Order issued by Maine Governor Janet Mills removed restrictions in the state on sterile needle and exchange services to help reduce harms among people who inject drugs and protect against the spread of infectious disease. Under Executive Order 27, the state will no longer require during the national COVID-19 emergency a 1:1 exchange—allowing individuals to receive multiple sterile needles and exchanges.
“The AMA encourages all states to consider adopting the Maine Executive Order to modify restrictive laws and regulations concerning the sale and possession of needles and syringes to maximize the availability of sterile syringes and needles,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “Sterile needle and syringe exchange is a proven harm reduction strategy. We commend Governor Mills for her action.”
The Maine Executive Order is the type of state action the AMA is encouraging as part of harm reduction policy efforts. Additional actions states can take include:
- Designate supplies provided by harm reduction organizations as “essential services” to reduce barriers to access during “shelter-in-place” orders
- Provide assistance to harm reduction organizations to help ensure adequate supplies of naloxone to continue community-based naloxone distribution efforts
- Ensure continuity of syringe services programs, including provision of PPE
- Expand PPE priority to include harm reduction organizations and other community-based organizations that provide services to people who inject drugs to help protect against the spread of infectious disease.
The AMA’s recommendations are part of a comprehensive set of state-focused policy recommendations for patients with pain, opioid use disorder and support for harm reduction efforts.
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