The legislation was introduced Tuesday by Monroe County Legislator Justin Wilcox, a Democrat from Brighton, who described being “deeply moved” by the story of Maisie Gillan.
Maisie died in January 2019 after she happened upon a stray methadone pill at the home of her next-door neighbor while attending a dinner party there with her family. She was 9 months old.
The pill belonged to an elderly relative of the homeowners’ who had stayed overnight at the house three days before the dinner party. The relative took methadone, an opioid, daily for restless leg syndrome, and police determined she had unwittingly dropped a pill while taking her dose.
Maisie ingested the methadone pill unbeknownst to her parents or hosts and died in her sleep overnight.
If enacted, the bill will be known as "Maisie's Law."
Adam Gillan, Maisie’s father, said it was unlikely that the legislation could have saved his daughter, but that having a dose of naloxone on hand could help save anyone who overdoses on opioids, including children who do so accidentally.
“Hopefully something like this can create a dialogue between patients and pharmacists in that not only are you going to get your prescribed opioid that will help you, but also something that will show you how dangerous it is,” Gillan said. “It creates that mental note in your head, ‘I have to be careful with what I have.’”
Eighty-eight percent opioid overdose victims who were administered naloxone by first responders between 2014 and 2017 survived, according to a New York state Department of Health report.
People addicted to opioids or their family members can already acquire naloxone, which is commonly sold under the brand name Narcan, with a prescription at more than 2,000 pharmacies across New York, including more than 100 in Monroe County.
In such cases, the state will cover up to $40 of the cost of a co-payment through the Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program.
The Monroe County legislation would differ somewhat from the state program in that it would mandate that one dose of naloxone be provided free to anyone filling a prescription for opioids for the first time. If patients refuse, they would have to sign a form indicating that they opted out.
The cost of the naloxone dose would be covered by the state naloxone program, according to the administration of Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, which supports the legislation.
In announcing the legislation, Bello called the bill the first of many steps to combat opioid addiction that would be rolled out in the coming weeks, including the formation of an "addiction response team" to be led by a county addictions services director.
This year, the county has recorded 65 fatal opioid overdoses to date, compared to 47 at the same time last year. There have also been 354 nonfatal overdoses this year, compared to 286 through the same time last year.
Wilcox said his legislation could not only save other children but reduce the stigma anyone addicted to opioids may feel inquiring about the availability of naloxone.
“This seemed like the best solution to an awful tragedy, a horrific tragedy, and I really want to thank the parents for being so involved and so active over the last several months to find a way to turn this tragedy into something positive,” Wilcox said.
David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.