NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

With a Little Help from My Friends: The Effects of Naloxone Access and Good Samaritan Laws on Opioid-Related Deaths

Daniel I. Rees, Joseph J. Sabia, Laura M. Argys, Joshua Latshaw, Dhaval Dave

NBER Working Paper No. 23171
Issued in February 2017
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Care, Health Economics, Law and Economics, Public Economics

In an effort to address the opioid epidemic, a majority of states have recently passed some version of a Naloxone Access Law (NAL) and/or a Good Samaritan Law (GSL). NALs allow lay persons to administer naloxone, which temporarily counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose; GSLs provide immunity from prosecution for drug possession to anyone who seeks medical assistance in the event of a drug overdose. This study is the first to examine the effect of these laws on opioid-related deaths. Using data from the National Vital Statistics System multiple cause-of-death mortality files for the period 1999-2014, we find that the adoption of a NAL is associated with a 9 to 11 percent reduction in opioid-related deaths. The estimated effect of GLSs on opioid-related deaths is of comparable magnitude, but not statistically significant at conventional levels. Finally, we find that neither NALs nor GSLs increase the recreational use of prescription painkillers.

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Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23171

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