White House report: Opioid epidemic cost $504B in 2015

Hydrocodone opioid pills
The opioid epidemic is costing the U.S. billions, according to a new report. (Getty/smartstock)

The opioid epidemic is costing the U.S. significantly more than was previously thought, according to a new White House report. 

The Council of Economic Advisors found that the addiction crisis cost $504 billion in 2015, far outstripping previous estimates. The council said that the number has skyrocketed as the crisis has worsened. 

The report's high estimate suggests that misuse of opioids cost the U.S. $622.1 billion in 2015, while its most conservative estimate suggests $293.9 billion. Most of the losses are attributed to healthcare and criminal justice costs, along with lost productivity, the council said. 

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"The true cost of the opioid crisis has been greatly understated because the full loss of thousands of American lives was not accounted for," the council said in the announcement. 

RELATED: The hidden consequence of the opioid crisis—Hospitals are overrun with cases of disease from IV drug use 

The estimate also includes the cost of non-fatal opioid use, with totals $72.3 billion in 2015.

The council found that opioid deaths have doubled over the past decade and have quadrupled over the past 16 years. It also suggests that opioid overdose deaths may be unreported by as much as 24%. Opioid overdose has become the leading casuse of injury death in the U.S., according to the report. 

RELATED: Trump declares the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency

The opioid crisis has been a major focus of the Trump administration. He recently declared the addiction crisis a national public health emergency, but was scarce on details on how to fund prevention and treatment initiatives. 

He also convened a commission on opioid addiction that recently issued a number of suggestions to combat the epidemic, including an increased emphasis on safe prescribing habits and adjust quality measures to include addiction elements. That report, too, was scant on funding specifics. 

The latest announcement also outlines several steps taken by the administration so far this year, including an increased focus on opioid fraud in the Department of Justice and a collaboration between the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to research new pain management strategies. 

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