2023 journal article
The Impact of Opioid Prescribing Limits on Drug Usage in South Carolina: A Novel Geospatial and Time Series Data Analysis
The opioid crisis in the United States has had devastating effects on communities across the country, leading many states to pass legislation that limits the prescription of opioid medications in an effort to reduce the number of overdose deaths. This study investigates the impact of South Carolina's prescription limit law (S.C. Code Ann. 44-53-360), which aims to reduce opioid overdose deaths, on opioid prescription rates. The study utilizes South Carolina Reporting and Identification Prescription Tracking System (SCRIPTS) data and proposes a distance classification system to group records based on proximity and evaluates prescription volumes in each distance class. Prescription volumes were found to be highest in classes with pharmacies located further away from the patient. An Interrupted Time Series (ITS) model is utilized to assess the policy impact, with benzodiazepine prescriptions as a control group. The ITS models indicate an overall decrease in prescription volume, but with varying impacts across the different distance classes. While the policy effectively reduced opioid prescription volumes overall, an unintended consequence was observed as prescription volume increased in areas where prescribers were located at far distances from patients, highlighting the limitations of state-level policies on doctors. These findings contribute to the understanding of the effects of prescription limit laws on opioid prescription rates and the importance of considering location and distance in policy design and implementation.