Opioids, both prescription painkillers and illegal drugs, were responsible for over 33,000 deaths in 2015 alone. Opioids also cause hundreds of thousands of non-fatal overdoses resulting in exorbitant levels of preventable health care expenses each year. Naloxone is a mu-opioid antagonist with well-established safety and efficacy that can reverse opioid overdose and prevent fatalities. Naloxone treatment of opioid overdose has been used in hospital settings for decades. It is only in recent years that many states have adopted legislation to expand training and distribution of naloxone to first responders and others associated with at risk groups.
As of 2016, forty-seven states, and the District of Columbia, have passed legislation designed to improve third-party access to naloxone. Thirty-five states have enacted some form of a Good Samaritan law, and fourteen states have begun to make naloxone available over the counter at pharmacies for individuals vulnerable to opioid overdose or members of their families and friends. By 2014 it was reported that more than 150,000 laypersons had received naloxone training and rescue kits resulting in more than 26,000 reported overdose reversals.
While several studies have aimed to project the efficacy of community-based opioid overdose prevention programs (OOPPs) and prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), few have examined the existing state naloxone access policies to estimate their usefulness in reducing opioid related mortality, preventing opioid related treatment admissions, and ultimately decreasing health costs. This project investigates the impact of state legislature variation on opioid related mortality and admissions. It specifically focuses on the effects of non-patient specific prescription laws, third-party prescription laws, and layperson immunity from criminal liability.