AUGUSTA, Maine — Since a new law went in to effect three years ago, Maine has seen a sharp decrease in high-dose opioid prescriptions, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.  

Patients with high-dose opioid prescriptions plummeted from 29,444 patients in 2015 to 12,281 in 2018, a 58% decline, according to state statistics. 

As of June 30 of this year, only 6,734 patients are on high-dose opioids. 

Maine passed a law that fully went into effect in 2018 which limits the dosage and duration of opioid prescriptions. Exceptions can be made for palliative care, hospice care, and other conditions.

Gordon Smith, director of opioid response for Gov. Janet Mills' administration, says these results show that the state is "going in the right direction."

Dr. Noah Nesin, chief medical officer of Penobscot Community Health Center, says the new law has done its job, but he would like the state to narrow its exceptions for palliative care.

Drug overdose deaths dropped from 417 in 2017 to 354 in 2018, according to state statistics, and 2019 deaths are on track to be somewhat lower than in 2018.

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