November 17, 2022
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Delesha Carpenter PhD, MSPH, Associate Professor and Interim Chair of the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy (DPOP) funding for her project “Creating a novel place-based measure to explain racial disparities in naloxone access to reduce opioid overdose deaths.” The NIH is providing four years of funding towards this project for a total of $2.4 million.
“I wanted to pursue this project because approximately five years ago I lost two good friends to opioid overdoses,” said Carpenter. “I am passionate about increasing access to naloxone because it can save lives.”
For this project, Carpenter will develop a novel, comprehensive place-based measure of naloxone availability to document disparities in naloxone access. The team will work with a diverse advisory board to create the new naloxone availability measure. Then they will combine primary data collected from a phone audit of community pharmacies and surveys of NC’s naloxone distribution organizations with secondary insurance claims data to comprehensively document sources of naloxone by ZIP code. The team will estimate racial and geographic disparities in naloxone availability and identify how social and community factors, such as community-level social segregation and drug-related arrests, affect disparities in naloxone availability.
“The funding from the NIH will allow us to work with naloxone and harm reduction experts across the state to better understand gaps in naloxone access and identify ways to increase equity in access,” said Carpenter. “It will also allow us to create interactive maps that display racial and geographic disparities in availability so that naloxone-distributing entities can coordinate efforts to ensure equity in naloxone distribution to prevent opioid overdose deaths.”
Carpenter is optimistic for the future of her team’s work. “I hope that we create useful tools for naloxone and harm reduction stakeholders in North Carolina. I also hope we create a process that can be replicated in other states.”
Carpenter is the principal investigator on this project and is joined by Carolyn Thorpe, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy; Blake Fagan, MD, Chair of Family Medicine at the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC); and Bayla Ostrach, PhD, an applied medical anthropologist and community health researcher with Fruit of Labor Action Research & Technical Assistance as co-investigators on the grant. The four are assisted by Nab Dasgupta MPH, PhD a Gillings Innovation Fellow as well as Senior Scientist at the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center; and Becky Naumann, PhD Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at The UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Also assisting the project is Paul Delamater, a Professor of Geography at the Carolina Population Center; and Ronny Bell, PhD, MEd, Professor of Social Sciences and Health Policy at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Gang Fang, PhD, a former Associate Professor in DPOP, was also instrumental in getting this project funded.