With a Little Help from My Friends: The Effects of Naloxone Access and Good Samaritan Laws on Opioid-Related Deaths
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.
The authors thank Zach Fone, Travis Freidman, Thanh Tam Nguyen and Dana George for excellent research assistance. We also acknowledge grant funding from the Charles Koch Foundation used to support graduate research assistance to Dr. Sabia at the University of New Hampshire. Dhaval Dave is grateful to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for funding support (1 R03 HS025014-01). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Daniel I. Rees & Joseph J. Sabia & Laura M. Argys & Dhaval Dave & Joshua Latshaw, 2019. "With a Little Help from My Friends: The Effects of Good Samaritan and Naloxone Access Laws on Opioid-Related Deaths," The Journal of Law and Economics, vol 62(1), pages 1-27.