A recent report by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) shows the true cost of the opioid epidemic is much greater than previously estimated. In 2015, overdoses from opioid painkiller drugs cost the country $504 billion, a figure six times higher than previous estimates.
An estimated 2.4 million Americans suffer from some kind of opioid-related dependency, including those who use prescription painkiller drugs like OxyContin and those using illegal street drugs like heroin. While previous estimates on the economic impact of the epidemic routinely focused on healthcare costs, the new report takes into account the human loss of life.
In 2015, over 33,000 victims lost their lives to fatal opioid overdoses, according to official government statistics. However, the CEA report indicates opioid-related fatalities are drastically underreported and adjusted their estimates by 25 percent to over 41,000 for the same year.
In addition to accounting for the human loss of life, the CEA report also includes estimates on the economic impact of non-fatal overdoses on the economy. Citing figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, non-fatal opioid overdoses amounted to $72.3 billion.
On average, the CEO estimates that 2.4 million Americans with opioid use disorders create $30,000 in costs. The CEA arrived at those numbers by taking the 2015 estimates on non-fatal opioid costs, dividing by 1.9 million, and then adding another 25 percent to account for underreporting.
One of the main causes of the opioid epidemic in America is the aggressive marketing campaigns many painkiller drug companies employed to exploit unsuspecting patients. Purdue Pharma in particular marketed its OxyContin opioid drugs as a safe and non-addictive long-term pain management treatment.
Big drug companies like Purdue Pharma went as far as to lobby The Joint Commission, a nonprofit that accredits hospitals around the country, to include pain as a fifth vital sign doctors should monitor and treat. Until 2001, doctors only documented four vital signs: blood pressure, pulse rate, temperature, and respiratory rate.
Unfortunately, the drugs developed by Purdue Pharma were an inappropriate method to treat such a subjective “symptom” The Joint Commission seemed to have created out of nowhere. As a result, doctors prescribed powerful opioid painkiller drugs to millions of Americans who had no idea how addicted the medication could be.
The Cochran Firm, D.C. believes strongly that powerful corporations should be held accountable for their greed and indifference to public safety. While millions of Americans struggled with drug addiction and lost loved ones to painkiller drug overdoses, companies like Purdue Pharma made tens of billions of dollars of OxyContin and other opioids.
To help families seek justice, the painkiller drug overdose lawyers of The Cochran Firm, D.C. are investigating claims on behalf of those who lost loved ones to a drug overdose after being prescribed opioid medication by doctors. Even in cases where victims turned to illegal street drugs to feed their addiction, families may still have legal rights to hold the drug companies responsible.
Because The Cochran Firm, D.C. understands these are sensitive cases, our office is offering free and confidential case consultations to those who lost loved ones to drug overdoses. So speak to a painkiller drug overdose lawsuit attorney about your case, call 1-800-THE FIRM (843-3476), or fill out an online contact form with the details of your case.