Opioid epidemic may have cost states at least $130 billion in treatment and related expenses

Image: Shutterstock/cigdem
Image: Shutterstock/cigdem

By Joel Segel, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Administration; Douglas L. Leslie, Professor of Public Health Sciences and Psychiatry; Gary Zajac, Managing Director of the Criminal Justice Research Center; Max Crowley, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies; and Paul L. Morgan, Eberly Fellow, Professor Education and Demography, and Director of the Center for Educational Disparities Research

Published in full in "The Conversation"

The devastating health effects of the opioid epidemic have been well documented, with over 700,000 overdose deaths and millions more affected.

And Americans are learning more every day about the role drug companies and distributors played in flooding towns and cities across the country with pain pills.

We know comparatively less, however, about the financial costs of the crisis. Several studies have emerged in recent years that estimate the national economic costs of the epidemic at anywhere from US$53 billion to $79 billion in a single year.

But given that states have led the charge in suing opioid makers with the aim of recovering some of their own costs, we wanted to know more specifically how the crisis has hurt their budgets. This is critical to understanding what they can recover from their lawsuits.

So we led a team of 20 researchers at Penn State in a series of studies that looked at the various ways state budgets have borne the burden of the opioid crisis. The result is the first comprehensive tally of state opioid costs.

Read on...