The opioid epidemic plaguing the United States is a lot larger than we thought according to a new report by the White House.
The White House released a report on Sunday that said in 2015 the epidemic cost taxpayers $504 billion, making it six times larger than initial estimates:
In an analysis to be released Monday, the Council of Economic Advisers says the figure is more than six times larger than the most recent estimate. The council said a 2016 private study estimated that prescription opioid overdoes, abuse and dependence in the U.S. in 2013 cost $78.5 billion. Most of that was attributed to health care and criminal justice spending, along with lost productivity.
According to the Associated Press, the reason the number is far larger than original estimates is due to the fact that deaths as a result of the epidemic have doubled over the past decade, and previous studies didn’t attribute the deaths to opioids.
Just last year, over 64,000 died as a result of opioids. Most deaths occurred due to overdoses of prescription pain medications, or heroin.
According to AP, the problem is severe enough that Trump declared it a national health emergency, but did not take measures to increase funding to help solve the problem:
Last month at the White House, President Donald Trump declared opioid abuse a national public health emergency. Trump announced an advertising campaign to combat what he said is the worst drug crisis in the nation’s history, but he did not direct any new federal funding toward the effort.
Trump’s declaration stopped short of the emergency declaration that had been sought by a federal commission the president created to study the problem. An interim report by the commission argued for an emergency declaration, saying it would free additional money and resources.