NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Sarah E. Inman

Columbia University
School of International and Public Affairs
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Columbia University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

April 2019Predicting High-Risk Opioid Prescriptions Before they are Given
with Justine S. Hastings, Mark Howison: w25791
Misuse of prescription opioids is a leading cause of premature death in the United States. We use new state government administrative data and machine learning methods to examine whether the risk of future opioid dependence, abuse, or poisoning can be predicted in advance of an initial opioid prescription. Our models accurately predict these outcomes and identify particular prior non-opioid prescriptions, medical history, incarceration, and demographics as strong predictors. Using our model estimates, we simulate a hypothetical policy which restricts new opioid prescriptions to only those with low predicted risk. The policy’s potential benefits likely outweigh costs across demographic subgroups, even for lenient definitions of “high risk.” Our findings suggest new avenues for prevention us...
 
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