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Reuters reports that the opioid crisis has cost the United States as much as $504 billion in 2015, based on a White House economists report released this week. The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) said the toll from the opioid crisis represented 2.8% of gross domestic product that year.
Using a combination of statistical models, the CEA said the lost economic output stemming from 33,000 opioid-related deaths in 2015 could be between $221 billion and $431 billion, depending on the methodology used.
In addition, the report looked at the cost of non-fatal opioid usage, estimating a total of $72 billion for 2.4 million people with opioid addictions in 2015. Those costs included medical treatment, criminal justice system expenses and the decreased economic productivity of addicts.
The CEA said its estimate was larger than those of some prior studies because it took a broad look at the value of lives lost to overdoses. The CEA also said its methodology incorporated an adjustment to reflect the fact that opioids were underreported on death certificates.
Opioids, primarily prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl, are fueling the drug overdoses. More than 100 Americans die daily from related overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This report could be used by the White House to urge Republicans in Congress - who historically have opposed increasing government spending - to provide more funding for fighting the opioid crisis.