Hsien-Chang Lin

The role of state policy and market competition in the opioid crisis focus of IU researcher's work

Opioid misuse is the major concern of the recent addiction crisis. Previous studies of misuse of prescription opioids focused on patients’ drug-seeking behaviors for extra pills of opioids, known as doctor shopping, which may begin with healthcare providers’ unsafe practice when providing prescriptions for opioids.

State policymakers have responded to the opioid crisis with a range of state policies to decrease availability of prescribed opioids and establish query systems for registered providers to know patients’ nearly real-time prescription history. In particular, state-level prescription drug monitoring programs have been implemented by all states to regulate prescribing of opioids and other controlled medications. Prescription drug monitoring programs are state-level initiatives and thus vary by design, requirement, and administration across states, and have been evolving over time.

Previous studies have not fully considered different and newly-added prescription drug monitoring programs' requirements and how these requirements may influence their effectiveness on physicians’ opioid prescribing behaviors.

Hsien-Chang Lin, associate professor at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, is addressing this issue by working to develop evidence-based policy recommendations to improve the impact of state policies on the current opioid crisis. The team is investigating how a range of policy initiatives, designed to decrease the availability of prescribed opioids, may mitigate this crisis.  Working with a multidisciplinary research team of experts in health services, policy, pharmacy, economics, and econometrics, Lin is using commercial health insurance claims and national survey data to carry out a statistical analysis, including looking at rural versus urban settings.  

Finally, Lin’s team aims to enhance the community’s awareness of the current epidemic in terms of crisis trends, the type of substances being used, at-risk populations, treatments, and policy and non-policy options to mitigate the crisis. The team has held six talks for the Addiction Policy Speaker Series that have covered these topics.