How the Reformulation of OxyContin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic
Ethan Lieber and
No 24475, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc
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.
JEL-codes: I1 I11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
Note: HC HE
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (3) Track citations by RSS feed
Published as 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.
Downloads: (external link)
Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at http://www.nber.org/wwphelp.html. Free access is also available to older working papers.
Journal Article: How the Reformulation of OxyContin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic (2019)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24475
Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
The price is Paper copy available by mail.
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().