Online Program

Reducing opioid overdose by changing law and policy

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Corey Davis, JD, MSPH, National Health Law Program, Los Angeles, CA
Scott Burris, JD, Beasley School of Law, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Damika Webb, JD, Public Health Law Research, Philadelphia, PA
Drug overdose has recently surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental injury death in the United States. The epidemic is largely driven by prescription opioids, which kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined. These deaths – over 16,000 per year – are almost entirely preventable by the timely administration of naloxone, an opioid antagonist. Yet, this life-saving drug is often not available when and where it is needed. Law is a primary driver of this lack of access. Because opioid overdose often occurs when the victim is with friends or family members, those people may be the best situated to act to save his or her life by administering naloxone. Unfortunately, existing law and regulation makes it difficult for such persons to access the drug. Further, overdose bystanders often fail to call 911 for fear of arrest or other negative legal action. A number of states have recently acknowledged and attempted to address this problem by modifying state law to encourage the prescription and use of naloxone and the summoning of emergency responders. Similarly, public health and other agencies have modified policy to increase access to the drug. This presentation will identify and discuss these laws and policies, and provide emerging evidence as to their effectiveness. Common themes will be identified, and evidence-based suggestions for further legal amendments to reduce overdose deaths will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify the role of law in preventing and facilitating opioid overdose prevention Describe legal and regulatory changes states have taken to reduce opioid overdose Describe evidence for efficacy of legal changes to reduce opioid overdose

Keyword(s): Drug Use, Injury Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a public health attorney specializing in the role of law in shaping health outcomes. I have extensive experience researching the effects of law on drug use and drug user health in a variety of environments, including the specific legal interventions described in this abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.