White House: Opioid epidemic's actual cost tops $500B

America's opioid crisis cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion in 2015, dwarfing previous annual estimates produced by multiple groups of researchers, according to a report conducted by the White House's Council of Economic Advisers.

To develop the estimate, the CEA used a combination of statistical models and took a broader look at the value of lives lost due to opioid-related overdoses than previous studies. Depending on the statistical methodology, the researchers determined the economic loss caused by 33,000 opioid-related deaths in 2015 could be between $221 billion and $431 billion. Additionally, the CEA assessed the cost associated with opioid addiction as it pertains to treating patients with the disease, the criminal justice system and lost productivity. The CEA researchers estimated a $72 billion loss related to the 2.4 million people with documented opioid addiction in 2015.

"CEA finds that previous estimates of the economic cost of the opioid crisis greatly understate it by undervaluing the most important component of the loss — fatalities resulting from overdoses," said the CEA Sunday. "CEA estimates that in 2015, the economic cost of the opioid crisis was $504.0 billion, or 2.8 percent of [gross domestic product] that year. This is over six times larger than the most recently estimated economic cost of the epidemic."

To read the CEA's full report, click here.

More articles on opioids: 
Florida saw opioid overdose deaths surge 35% in 2016 
Cardinal Health rolls out Opioid Action Program 
Baltimore physician defies federal law to deliver opioid addiction treatment via telemedicine

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