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WH: Cost of Opioid Epidemic Tops $500B 11/20 06:24

   The White House says the true cost of the opioid drug epidemic in 2015 was 
$504 billion, or roughly half a trillion dollars.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says the true cost of the opioid drug 
epidemic in 2015 was $504 billion, or roughly half a trillion dollars.

   In an analysis to be released Monday, the Council of Economic Advisers says 
the figure is more than six times larger than the most recent estimate. The 
council said a 2016 private study estimated that prescription opioid overdoes, 
abuse and dependence in the U.S. in 2013 cost $78.5 billion. Most of that was 
attributed to health care and criminal justice spending, along with lost 

   The council said its estimate is significantly larger because the epidemic 
has worsened, with overdose deaths doubling in the past decade, and that some 
previous studies didn't reflect the number of fatalities blamed on opioids, a 
powerful but addictive category of painkillers.

   The council also noted that previous studies had focused exclusively on 
prescription opioids, while its study also factors in illicit opioids, 
including heroin.

   "Previous estimates of the economic cost of the opioid crisis greatly 
underestimate it by undervaluing the most important component of the loss --- 
fatalities resulting from overdoses," said the report, which the White House 
released Sunday night.

   Last month at the White House, President Donald Trump declared opioid abuse 
a national public health emergency. Trump announced an advertising campaign to 
combat what he said is the worst drug crisis in the nation's history, but he 
did not direct any new federal funding toward the effort.

   Trump's declaration stopped short of the emergency declaration that had been 
sought by a federal commission the president created to study the problem. An 
interim report by the commission argued for an emergency declaration, saying it 
would free additional money and resources.

   But in its final report earlier this month, the panel called only for more 
drug courts, more training for doctors and penalties for insurers that dodge 
covering addiction treatment. It did not call for new money to address the 

   More than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, most 
involving a prescription painkiller or an illicit opioid like heroin.


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