Prescription Opioid Policies Impact on Opioid Overdoses and Related Adverse Effects

The rate of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. increased more than three-fold since 1999, with more than two-thirds of overdose deaths in 2016 related to opioids and opiates. In July 2016, Maine enacted new opioid prescribing restrictions. One year later, in July 2017, Vermont did the same. These policies in Vermont and Maine put major restrictions on prescription opioid amount and duration.

Our overall objective of this research project was to quantify the impact of opioid prescribing policies on opioid overdoses and related events. Our Specific Aims were:


  1. Measure the impact of opioid prescribing policies on hospital utilization (Emergency Department and Inpatient) due to opioid overdose and opioid-related adverse effects  
  1. Identify patient-level clinical predictors of hospital utilization for opioid overdose and related medical events in relation to opioid prescribing policies


The Vermont Health Care Uniform Reporting and Evaluation System (VHCURES) data are under the stewardship of the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB). The analyses, conclusions, and recommendations from the VHCURES data are solely those of the study authors and are not necessarily those of the GMCB. The GMCB had no input into the study design, implementation, or interpretation of the findings.

This research was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health for the Northern New England Clinical and Translational Research network as a supplement [Award Number U54 GM115516-S1]

Northern NE Research

Harder VS, Varni SE, Murray KA, Plante TB, Villanti AC, Wolfson DL, Maruti S, Fairfield KM. Prescription opioid policies and associations with opioid overdose and related adverse effects. International Journal of Drug Policy. 2021;97:103306. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103306. 

Harder VS, Plante TB, Koh I, Rogers EB, Varni SE, TVillanti AC, Brooklyn JR, Fairfield KM. Influence of Opioid Prescription Policy on Overdoses and Related Adverse Effects in a Primary Care Population. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2021;36(7):2013-2020. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-06831-4.