This paper studies how opioid analgesic sales are empirically related to socioeconomic disparities in France, with a focus on poverty. This analysis is made possible using the OpenHealth database, which provides retail sales data for opioid analgesics available on the French market. We exploit ﬁrm-level data for each of the 94 departments in Metropolitan France between 2008 and 2017. We show that increases in the poverty rate are associated with increases in sales: a one percentage point increase in poverty is associated with approximately a ﬁve percent increase in mild opioid sales. Our analysis further shows that opioid sales are positively related to the share of middle-aged people and individuals with basic education only, while they are negatively related to population density. The granularity and longitudinal nature of these data allow us to control for a large pool of potential confounding factors. Our results suggest that additional interventions should be more intensively addressed towards the most deprived areas. We conclude that a combination of policies aimed at improving economic prospects and strictly monitoring access to opioid medications would be beneﬁcial for reducing opioid-related harm.
JEL classiﬁcation: I11, I15, I18.
Keywords: Prescription opioids · Socioeconomic conditions · France · Opioid crisis