West Virginia loses $8.8B to opioid crisis every year, analysis finds

Among all states, West Virginia faces the highest per-capita fiscal burden related to the nation's opioid crisis, according to an analysis from the American Enterprise Institute cited by the Charleston Gazette-Mail.


To determine the state-level economic burden of the opioid epidemic, AEI researchers assessed how much states spend on healthcare, addiction treatment and criminal justice services, in addition to lost worker productivity related to fatal overdoses.

Analysis revealed West Virginia's annual economic burden was $8.8 billion, which averages out to $4,793 per person. Maryland's average was second highest at $3,366 per resident. Nebraska displayed the lowest per-capita opioid-related economic burden at $465 per resident.

The findings suggest a 2017 estimate of financial burden developed by researchers with Morgantown-based West Virginia University underestimated the lost value attributable to opioid-related deaths in the state. The WVU study determined the fiscal burden of the public health crisis was $1 billion.

"We're losing $8.8 billion per year, at least one-eighth of the economy," said Rahul Gupta, MD, West Virginia's public health commissioner, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. "It seems we've been grossly underestimating the economic impact."

More articles on opioids: 
Study: Fentanyl testing strips may help reduce overdoses among drug users 
How opioid-free anesthesia and multimodal pain management can improve care and address a public health crisis 
'Drug czar' officials excluded from White House opioid response: 6 things to know

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