A Cross-State Longitudinal Study of Opioid-Related Deaths Associated with Opioid and Naloxone Prescribing and Prevention Laws
More than 40% of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription opioid, with more than 46 people dying every day from overdoses involving prescription opioids, (CDC, 2017). Over the years, lawmakers have implemented policies and laws to address the opioid epidemic, and many of these vary from state to state. This study will lay out the basic guidelines of common pieces of legislation. It also examines relationships between 6 state-specific prescribing or preventative laws and associated changes in opioid-related deaths using a longitudinal cross-state study design (2007-2015). Specifically, it uses a linear regression to examine changes in state-specific rates of opioid-related deaths after implementation of specific policies, and whether states implementing these policies saw smaller increases than states without these policies. Initial key findings of this study show that three policies have a statistically significant association with opioid related overdose deaths are—Good Samaritan Laws, Standing Order Laws, and Naloxone Liability Laws. Paradoxically, all three policies correlated with an increase in opioid overdose deaths between 2007 and 2016. However, after correcting for the potential spurious relationship between state-specific timing of policy implementation and death rates, two policies have a statistically significant association (alpha <0.05) with opioid overdose death rates. First, the Naloxone Liability Laws were significantly associated with changes in opioid-related deaths and was correlated with a 0.33 log increase in opioid overdose death rates, or a 29% increase. This equates to about 1.39 more deaths per year per 100,000 people. Second, the legislation that allows for 3rd Party Naloxone prescriptions correlated with a 0.33 log decrease in opioid overdose death rates, or a 29% decrease. This equates to 1.39 fewer deaths per year per 100,000 people.