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How a mathematical model could help us curb the opioid epidemic

photos of round yellow pills on a teal background
REUTERS/George Frey
Aug 28 2018
Fellow, Research, Stanford

Stanford University researchers have developed a mathematical model that could help public health officials and policymakers curb an opioid epidemic that took the lives of an estimated 49,000 Americans last year.

The model includes data about prescriptions, addictions and overdoses in the United States. It can be used to consider “what if” scenarios similar to those that business leaders run through to project how changing product features or prices are likely to affect sales and profits, said Margaret Brandeau, professor of management science and engineering and Coleman F. Fung Professor in the School of Engineering.

Brandeau is the senior author of a paper that describes how the model analyzes opioid use and addiction among Americans whose initial exposure to these drugs came either from being prescribed pills or gaining illicit access to pills.

The paper appears in the American Journal of Public Health. The lead author is graduate student Allison Pitt.

Lead author Allison Pitt is a 2013 EDGE-STEM Fellow and EDGE mentor.

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