President Donald Trump said Monday that the opioid epidemic is "ravaging so many American families and communities." It also appears to be more expensive than previously thought, according to a government analysis released Monday. The White House Council of Economic Advisers pegs the true cost of the crisis in 2015 at $504 billion, the AP reports. The figure is more than six times the most recent estimate. The council said a 2016 private study estimated that prescription opioid overdose, misuse, and dependence in the US cost $78.5 billion in 2013. Most of that was attributed to health care and criminal justice spending, along with lost productivity.
The council said that its estimate is significantly larger because the epidemic has worsened, with overdose deaths doubling in the past decade, and that some previous studies didn't reflect the number of fatalities blamed on opioids, a powerful but addictive category of painkillers. The council also said previous studies focused exclusively on prescription opioids, while the new analysis included illicit opioids, including heroin. Last month, Trump declared opioid misuse a national public health emergency. Trump's declaration stopped short of the emergency declaration that had been sought by a federal commission he created to study the problem. An interim report by the commission argued for an emergency declaration, saying it would free additional money and resources.
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