A research center dedicated to identifying effective policies for combating the nation's opioid epidemic has been established at the RAND Corporation, supported by a $7.2 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a component of the National Institutes of Health.
The RAND Opioid Policy Tools and Information Center (OPTIC) will foster innovative research to develop more powerful tools and methods for tackling the epidemic. The center adds to RAND's significant efforts studying the nation's opioid problems.
"The opioid crisis is dynamic and our understanding of policy effects is evolving, but not as fast as the crisis itself," said Dr. Bradley D. Stein, the center's director and a senior physician scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Combatting the opioid crisis requires developing ways to help decision-makers identify which policies are most effective and under what circumstances. This includes identifying policies that have little effect, in addition to well-intentioned policies that may have unintended negative consequences."
For example, prior work by researchers from the new RAND center showed that the reformulation of the pain medication OxyContin was a major driver behind the shift to heroin consumption in 2010 and subsequent rise in the spread of hepatitis C.
The RAND opioid center will develop novel methods for assessing the impact of specific opioid policies when multiple policies are being implemented by a state. Center researchers also will seek to understand why some policies are more effective in some communities than others.
The center will create a simulation tool to inform and hone methods that opioid policy researchers use to identify the most effective policies aimed at addressing the opioid crisis.
The center (P50 DA046351-01) will be co-directed by Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, a RAND senior economist, and Beth Ann Griffin, a RAND senior statistician.
RAND Health is the nation's largest independent health policy research program, with a broad research portfolio that focuses on health care costs, quality, and public health preparedness, among other topics.