Do naloxone access laws increase outpatient naloxone prescriptions? Evidence from Medicaid

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2018 Sep 1:190:37-41. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2018.05.014. Epub 2018 Jun 22.


Background: Naloxone is a prescription medication that can quickly and effectively reverse opioid overdose. Medicaid is a major payer of substance use disorder services, and Medicaid beneficiaries experience especially high rates of opioid overdose. As opioid overdose rates have risen sharply, every state has modified its laws to make naloxone easier to access. The aim of this paper is to determine whether implementation of different provisions of naloxone access laws led to increased naloxone dispensing financed by Medicaid.

Methods: We reviewed naloxone legislation passed by every state between 2007 and 2016. We used the Medicaid State Drug Utilization dataset to examine the effect of different types of state naloxone access law provisions, separately and as a whole, on the number of outpatient naloxone prescriptions reimbursed by Medicaid from 2007 to 2016. We included state-level covariates in our models that may be correlated with naloxone utilization in Medicaid and passage of naloxone access laws.

Results: We found that the presence of any naloxone law was significantly associated with increases in outpatient naloxone reimbursed through Medicaid. Laws containing standing order provisions were most consistently associated with increases in naloxone dispensing across models. Standing order provisions led on average to an increase of approximately 33 naloxone prescriptions per state-quarter, which is equivalent to 74% of the average number of naloxone prescriptions per state-quarter.

Conclusions: Naloxone access laws, particularly those with standing order provisions, appear to be an effective policy approach to increasing naloxone access among Medicaid beneficiaries.

Keywords: Fixed effects model; Law; Medicaid; Naloxone.

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Ambulatory Care / psychology
  • Ambulatory Care / trends*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Drug Overdose / drug therapy
  • Drug Overdose / epidemiology
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Drug Utilization / trends
  • Humans
  • Medicaid / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Medicaid / trends*
  • Naloxone / therapeutic use*
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Outpatients / psychology
  • Prescription Drugs / therapeutic use
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Naloxone