Effectiveness and Implementability of State-Level Naloxone Access Policies
Expert Consensus from an Online Modified-Delphi Process
Published in: International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 98 (December 2021, 103383. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103383
Posted on RAND.org on January 25, 2022
Download Free Electronic Document
|PDF file||0.1 MB||
Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.
Naloxone distribution, a key global strategy to prevent fatal opioid overdose, has been a recent target of legislation in the U.S., but there is insufficient empirical evidence from causal inference methods to identify which components of these policies successfully reduce opioid-related harms. This study aimed to examine expert consensus on the effectiveness and implementability of various state-level naloxone policies.
We used the online ExpertLens platform to conduct a three-round modified-Delphi process with a purposive sample of 46 key stakeholders (advocates, healthcare providers, human/social service practitioners, policymakers, and researchers) with naloxone policy expertise. The Effectiveness Panel (n = 24) rated average effects of 15 types of policies on naloxone pharmacy distribution, opioid use disorder (OUD) prevalence, nonfatal opioid-related overdoses, and opioid-related overdose mortality. The Implementation Panel (n = 22) rated the same policies on acceptability, feasibility, affordability, and equitability. We compared ratings across policies using medians and inter-percentile ranges, with consensus measured using the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method Inter-Percentile Range Adjusted for Symmetry technique.
Experts reached consensus on all items. Except for liability protections and required provision of education or training, experts perceived all policies to generate moderate-to-large increases in naloxone pharmacy distribution. However, only three policies were expected to yield substantive decreases on fatal overdose: statewide standing/protocol order, over-the-counter supply, and statewide "free naloxone." Of these, experts rated only statewide standing/protocol orders as highly affordable and equitable, and unlikely to generate meaningful population-level effects on OUD or nonfatal opioid-related overdose. Across all policies, experts rated naloxone prescribing mandates relatively lower in acceptability, feasibility, affordability, and equitability.
Experts believe statewide standing/protocol orders are an effective, implementable, and equitable policy for addressing opioid-related overdose mortality. While experts believe many other broad policies are effective in reducing opioid-related harms, they also believe these policies face implementation challenges related to cost and reaching vulnerable populations.
Research conducted by
This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.