Thuy D. Nguyen
O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Bloomington, IN 47401
Institutional Affiliation: Indiana University Bloomington
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|June 2019||Can Policy Affect Initiation of Addictive Substance Use? Evidence from Opioid Prescribing|
with Daniel W. Sacks, Alex Hollingsworth, Kosali I. Simon: w25974
Drug control policy can have unintended consequences by pushing existing users to alternative, possibly more dangerous substances. Policies that target only new users may therefore be especially promising. Using commercial insurance claims data, we provide the first evidence on a set of new policies intended to reduce opioid initiation in the form of limits on initial prescription length. We also provide the first evidence on the impact of must-access prescription drug monitoring programs (MA-PDMPs), laws that do not target new users, on initial opioid use. Although initial limit policies reduce the average length of initial prescriptions, they do so primarily by raising the frequency of short prescriptions, resulting in increases in opioids dispensed to new users. In contrast, we find tha...