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Opioid crisis cost U.S. nearly $1.5 trillion in 2020 -congressional report

Coronavirus Sep 28, 2022 01:10PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tablets of the opioid-based Hydrocodone at a pharmacy in Portsmouth, Ohio, June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston/File Photo

By Ahmed Aboulenein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic toll of the opioid addiction and overdose crisis on the United States reached nearly $1.5 trillion in 2020 alone and is likely to grow, a congressional report seen by Reuters shows.

Opioid-related deaths soared during the pandemic, including from the powerful synthetic painkiller fentanyl, exacerbating an already tragic and costly nationwide crisis that accounted for 75% of the 107,000 drug overdose fatalities in 2021, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.

"It's equivalent to one 737 (jet) every day going down, no survivors. It's a mind boggling number of deaths," said Representative David Trone, who sits on the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) that issued the report.

The committee said in a Wednesday report that after adapting a method used by CDC scientists and adjusting for inflation, it found that the crisis cost the U.S. economy $1.47 trillion in 2020, a $487 billion increase from 2019.

The latest calculation represents a 37% increase from 2017, when the CDC last measured the cost.

"JEC is valuing all the various loss that happens with addiction. There's loss of productivity, folks in the job force, all the medical health costs, just a huge number of costs," said Trone, a Democrat who previously chaired the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking.

"The rise in fatal opioid overdoses in 2021 suggests the total cost is likely to continue to increase," the report said.

The report also highlighted racial inequalities within the crisis. Although opioid use is more common among white people, Black people accounted for 17% of U.S. fatal opioid overdoses in 2020 despite making up 12.5% of the population.

Black people have a harder time getting addiction treatment because they are less likely to have access to affordable healthcare and prescribed medications that can reduce the risk of fatal opioid overdoses, it said.

President Joe Biden announced on Friday nearly $1.5 billion to fund access to medications for opioid overdoses, sanctions against traffickers, and increased funding for law enforcement.

Opioid crisis cost U.S. nearly $1.5 trillion in 2020 -congressional report
 

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Comments (2)
Steven Kilgore
Steven Kilgore Sep 28, 2022 7:47PM ET
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Have to love how they use a picture of pills when covering the “opioid ” crisis. Obviously some doctors were pill mills, but lets be honest very few of the deaths are from pills. The vast majority of deaths are from the fact H isnt H anyore but souped up versions with synthetic new opioids 100’s of times stronger.
Randy Walekr
Randy Walekr Sep 28, 2022 7:47PM ET
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Exactly right my friend… CDC guidelines on doctors prescribing habits came out in 2017… Opioid overdoses have tripled since that time. The problem has always been fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine and crack cocaine in combination with benzodiazepines. Those problems are impossible to solve with an open border so physicians became a easy scapegoat for government failures. My apologies if I sound better…
Randy Walekr
Randy Walekr Sep 28, 2022 7:47PM ET
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Bitter
Randy Walekr
Randy Walekr Sep 28, 2022 1:43PM ET
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1960’s No overdose deaths to speak of. Nixon created the DEA in 1973, few thousand overdoses by 1980, tougher sentences in the 1990’s, by 2000 few tens of thousands overdosed and crack and meth came on scene, local task forces formed in the 2000s then by 2015, around 60,000 deaths per year, 2017 CDC decides doctors of the problem and prohibits opioid prescribing now well over 120,000 deaths in 2021. Maybe we should rethink this whole government is the answer idea…
taylor jason
taylor jason Sep 28, 2022 1:43PM ET
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your analysis is flawed since it doesn't recognize that the potentency of drugs has significantly increased, and it also doesn't account for the synthetic drugs that mimic the effects but are more dangerous. back in the 70s If you bought a bag of *** you knew it was *** today you are probably getting fentynal
Randy Walekr
Randy Walekr Sep 28, 2022 1:43PM ET
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taylor jason My point is simply that prohibition always makes things worse. Government does not solve problems it only hurts some people in a fool hearted effort to protect some from themselves. The potency of drugs is not the issue.
 
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