NBER

Patrick Power

Department of Economics
Boston University
Boston, MA 02215

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Boston University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

April 2018How the Reformulation of OxyContin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic
with William N. Evans, Ethan Lieber: w24475
We attribute the recent quadrupling of heroin death rates to the August, 2010 reformulation of an oft-abused prescription opioid, OxyContin. The new abuse-deterrent formulation led many consumers to substitute to an inexpensive alternative, heroin. Using structural break techniques and variation in substitution risk, we find that opioid consumption stops rising in August, 2010, heroin deaths begin climbing the following month, and growth in heroin deaths was greater in areas with greater pre-reformulation access to heroin and opioids. The reformulation did not generate a reduction in combined heroin and opioid mortality—each prevented opioid death was replaced with a heroin death.

Published: William N. Evans & Ethan M. J. Lieber & Patrick Power, 2019. "How the Reformulation of OxyContin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic," The Review of Economics and Statistics, vol 101(1), pages 1-15. citation courtesy of

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