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Opioid epidemic costs U.S. $78.5 billion annually

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Staff Writer | September 21, 2016
Abuse of powerful prescription painkillers called opioids costs the U.S. economy $78.5 billion a year, according to a government study.
Opioid epidemic
Cost of health   Up dramatically from 2007
The study, led by Curtis Florence of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, found that health care accounted for about 30 percent of the costs associated with opioid abuse in 2013. Total spending for health care and substance abuse topped $28 billion. Insurance covered most of it, the study found.

Nearly 25 percent of the economic burden was shouldered by public sources. They included Medicaid, Medicare and other public insurance as well as government-funded treatment programs.

State and local governments shouldered most of the $7.7 billion in criminal justice-related costs. They also lost tax revenue because productivity slipped, the study showed.

The researchers reported that nearly 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids in 2013.

That same year, 16,000 people died of opioid overdoses - up dramatically from 2007, the most recent year for which detailed estimates were available. Fatal overdoses cost the economy $21.5 billion, the study showed.


 

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