Discarded hypodermic needles at an encampment where opioid addicts shoot up along the Merrimack River in Lowell, Mass. Photo: Charles Krupa / AP

"The White House says the true cost of the opioid drug epidemic in 2015 was $504 billion, or roughly half a trillion dollars," per AP's Darlene Superville:

"[T]he 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."

  • "The council said 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 its study also factors in illicit opioids, including heroin."

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