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Invited commentary: The association between Florida's opioid crackdown and opioid-related mortality-the roles of economic factors and mortality misclassification

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)894-897
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Volume189
Issue number9
DOIs
Published1 Sep 2020

King's Authors

Abstract

Opioid overdose mortality has been increasing in the United States, and other types of mortality, such as motor vehicle crash deaths, may also be linked to opioid use. In this issue of the Journal, Feder et al. (Am J Epidemiol. 2020;189(9):885-893) examine the association between Florida's opioid crackdown laws, implemented in 2010-2011, and opioid-related mortality. They found a decrease in numbers of opioid-overdose and car-crash deaths compared with what would have been expected in the absence of such policies. They also found no evidence of any unintended increase in suicides due to poor pain management. The results were robust to alternative methodological approaches. Florida's opioid policy reforms coincided with the state's convergence towards national unemployment rates, as well as a new state law prohibiting texting while driving. Because opioid overdose mortality is often associated with economic conditions and because car crashes and suicides may also be linked to the macroeconomic environment, future research should take such factors into account when studying the outcomes of opioid prescribing laws. Another data-related aspect to consider is the misclassification of suicides as car crashes or opioid overdoses. Overall, the findings by Feder et al. are encouraging and can inform policy in other countries facing increasing numbers of opioid overdose deaths.

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