Ferris State Professor Researches New Approach to Targeting Opioid Crisis

This Ferris State University professor is doing research that could help curb the opioid crisis.

Dr. Minji Sohn recently studied how much naloxone is distributed in states that mandate it’s prescribed to certain opioid patients.

They specifically looked at Virginia and New Hampshire, the first two states to pass that kind of mandate.

This is Dr. Minji Sohn. She’s an associate professor in the college of pharmacy at Ferris State University. She recently teamed up with professors at the University of Kentucky to look at a new tactic in some states to combat the opioid crisis.

“For these states that have naloxone co-prescription mandates, they are required to co-prescribe naloxone if the individuals have a higher risk of opioid overdoses,” said Dr. Sohn.

They looked at New Hampshire and Virginia, two states hit hard by the crisis and the first to pass this type of law. Arizona and California recently passed similar measures.

“Individuals using opioids, or illicit opioids, or patients with opioids use disorders may have increased risks of opioid overdose. But other patients receiving legitimate opioid prescriptions, still may have a risk of overdose. These regulatory interventions or legal mandates are really intended to reduce the overdose mortality,” said Dr. Sohn.

It’s a new approach to solving an old problem, which is why Dr. Sohn and others wanted to take a look at it. They found naloxone prescriptions were 8 times more prevalent in these states than in ones that didn’t have a co-prescribing mandate.

“Our next step is to really look at the impact on the opioid overdose death rate. We only looked at the rate the naloxone dispensing. Currently what we have done is to look at how much naloxone was distributed and became available for people,” said Dr. Sohn.