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Institutional Affiliation: RAND Corporation
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|April 2015||How Increasing Medical Access to Opioids Contributes to the Opioid Epidemic: Evidence from Medicare Part D|
with David Powell, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula: w21072
Drug overdoses involving opioid analgesics have increased dramatically since 1999, representing one of the United States’ top public health crises. Opioids have legitimate medical functions, but improving access may increase abuse rates even among those not prescribed the drugs given that opioids are frequently diverted to nonmedical use. We have little evidence about the causal relationship between increased medical access to opioids and spillovers resulting in abuse. We use the introduction of the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program (Part D) as a large and differential shock to the geographic supply of opioids. We compare growth in opioid supply and abuse rates in states with large 65+ population shares to states with smaller elderly population shares with a focus on abuse among t...