News ID: 210022
Published: 0522 GMT February 14, 2018

US opioid epidemic cost $1 trillion since 2001 and climbing: Report

US opioid epidemic cost $1 trillion since 2001 and climbing: Report

The US opioid epidemic ravaging American communities has cost over $1 trillion since 2001, and may exceed another $500 billion over the next three years, according to a new study.

The report published on Tuesday by Altarum, a health systems research and consulting organization, examined US mortality data between 2001 and 2017.

According to the report, the greatest financial cost of the opioid epidemic is in lost earnings and productivity losses to employers.

Early deaths and substance abuse disorders also take a toll on the local, state and federal government through lost tax revenue.

The report indicated that these costs are rising.

Corey Rhyan, a senior research analyst with Altarum's Center for Value and Health Care explained that one reason for the increase is that more young people are being affected as the epidemic moves from prescription opioids to illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl.

“The average age at which opioid deaths are occurring — you're looking at something in the late 30s or early 40s,” Rhyan said. “As a result, you're looking at people that are in the prime of the productive years of their lives.”

The Altarum researchers say the growth in costs between 2011 and 2016 was double the rate of the previous five years and is projected to keep rising steeply unless there is a comprehensive and sustained national response.

In November, US President Donald Trump declared the country's drug crisis a “public health emergency.” Trump also announced an advertising campaign to combat the epidemic, but did not direct any new federal funding toward the effort.

Opioids are drugs formulated to replicate the pain reducing properties of opium. They include both legal painkillers like morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone prescribed by doctors for acute or chronic pain, as well as illegal drugs like heroin or illicitly made fentanyl.

The word "opioid" is derived from the word "opium."

US government and healthcare officials have been struggling to stem the epidemic of overdoses, which killed more than 64,000 Americans last year alone, up from 52,000 the previous year. More than half were related to opioids.

Opioid drug abuse has killed more Americans than the US wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan combined, highlighting the growing opioid crisis in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).



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