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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Michigan: Wide Naloxone Distribution Effective in Preventing Deaths

Broad distribution of the opioid reversal drug naloxone is highly cost-effective in reducing fatal overdoses, according to a new University of Michigan study.

The researchers examined the cost-effectiveness of increased distribution of naloxone to laypeople likely to witness or experience overdose, police and firefighters, and emergency medical services.

“Before this, there hadn’t been research on the cost-effectiveness of equipping first responder groups with naloxone, and how that compares to equipping laypeople,” said Ms. Tarlise (Tarlie) Townsend, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and first author of the study. 

“Resources to address widespread overdose deaths are limited, so it’s important to ask: How can they be allocated for maximum health benefit? We found that getting naloxone into the hands of all three of these groups minimized fatal overdoses and was very cost-effective.”

High distribution to all three groups, the researchers say, was actually cost-saving when accounting for societal costs, such as productivity losses due to fatal overdose — even when considering increased costs related to the criminal justice and health care systems. 

The study is published in the International Journal of Drug Policy. In addition to Ms. Townsend, co-authors included Ms. Freida Blostein, Ms. Tran Doan, Ms. Samantha Madson-Olson and Ms. Paige Galecki, all of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and senior author Dr. David Hutton, associate professor of health management and policy at Michigan Public Health.

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