U.S. opioid epidemic cost $504 billion in 2015

Opioid abuse Shutterstock 315x210 U.S. opioid epidemic cost $504 billion in 2015The opioid epidemic cost the U.S. $504 billion in 2015, according to the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) report – more than six times what experts had expected it to be.

During that year, more than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, 63 percent of which were caused by opioids. Those most likely to die from opioid overdoses were people between the ages of 25 and 55. The overall fatality rate caused by these drugs is between 16 and 22 deaths per 100,000 people – twice of that of previous years, according to the report.

The CEA report was compiled to give policymakers the economic analysis needed to review and assess potential policy options. “A better understanding of the economic causes contributing to the crisis is crucial for evaluating the success of various interventions to combat it,” the report states. The CEA says it expects to issue more reports on the economic impact of the opioid crisis in the future.

Opioids are powerful painkillers typically prescribed to manage cancer pain or pain after surgery, though they are often prescribed for chronic pain. Opioids include morphine, codeine, fentanyl and oxycodone. The drugs give users a feeling of euphoria, which makes them targets for misuse and abuse.

In November, President Trump called the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, enabling federal agencies to provide grant money to fight the opioid crisis. The designation also allows the Department of Health and Human Services to access a special fund reserved for an unexpected health emergency. At the moment, however, the fund has a balance of only $57,000.

Source: Washington Examiner