BACKGROUND: The opioid overdose crisis in the United States continues to worsen. Opioid overdose mortality is entirely preventable with timely administration of naloxone. Since 2001, many states have passed laws to create an enabling environment for the implementation of overdose education and naloxone distribution (OEND) programs. We assessed whether state-level naloxone laws and their provisions stimulated the implementation of OEND programs in the United States.
METHODS: Covering the period from 2000 to 2014, we utilized five data sources including the Westlaw legal database, the Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System, the Harm Reduction Coalition's OEND database, National Center of Health Statistics and the United States Census. Random effects logistic regression models with robust variances were used to examine the association of naloxone access laws and their provisions with OEND program implementation as of 2014.
RESULTS: At the end of 2014, 8% of counties had OEND programs implemented within them. Counties within states that had a naloxone law (aOR = 28.98; p < 0.001) or a law with any one of the six provisions - third party (aOR = 12.86; p = 0.001), standing order (aOR = 11.45; p < 0.001), possession (aOR = 45.97; p < 0.001), prescriber immunity (aOR = 5.19; p = 0.007), dispenser immunity (aOR = 3.50; p = 0.028) or layperson dispensing (aOR = 12.91; p = 0.001) - had increased odds of an OEND program implemented within them, compared to counties within states without a law or specific provision, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that naloxone laws facilitated the implementation of OEND programs. With only 8% of counties having an OEND program within them, future studies should investigate strategies to improve the implementation of OEND programs.