Sam Baker Feb 13
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Opioid crisis has cost the U.S. $1 trillion

Police and medical workers treat a woman who overdosed on heroin. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The opioid crisis has cost the U.S. $1 trillion since 2001, according to Altarum, a nonprofit health research firm. Those costs have been increasing more rapidly over the past few years, and Altarum projects they’ll grow by another $500 billion just by 2020.

By the numbers:

  • Most of that $1 trillion comes from lost wages, productivity and tax revenue, Altarum said.
  • The health care system directly bore about a quarter of the total financial burden — $215 billion — largely from emergency treatment of overdoses.

The human cost: Roughly 64,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2016, driven by a recent surge in deaths from fentanyl, heroin and prescription opioids — making today’s addiction crisis worse than the HIV epidemic at its peak.

Between the lines: “Lost wages and productivity” can seem like a nebulous cost, but it’s a good way to think about the ripple effects of this crisis beyond the people who die from it. When 116 people per day are dying from opioid-related overdoses, at an average age of just 41, their “lost wages and productivity” are a partial measure of the hole that’s left in their families and their communities.

Steve LeVine 5 hours ago
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Self-driving lab head urges freeze after "nightmare" fatality

Uber self-driving car in Pittsburgh. Photo: Jeff Swensen / Getty

Carmakers and technology companies should freeze their race to field autonomous vehicles because "clearly the technology is not where it needs to be," said Raj Rajkumar, head of Carnegie Mellon University's leading self-driving laboratory.

What he said: Speaking a few hours after a self-driven vehicle ran over and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, Rajkumar said, "This isn't like a bug with your phone. People can get killed. Companies need to take a deep breath. The technology is not there yet. We need to keep people in the loop."

David McCabe 1 hour ago
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Senate committee probes Facebook, Cambridge Analytica

Mark Zuckerberg walks in front of trees
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Senate Commerce Committee is sending written questions to Cambridge Analytica's parent company and Facebook about the revelation that the data consulting firm improperly gathered user data from the social giant.

Why it matters: This is the most aggressive action by Republicans yet to investigate the reports about the Trump-linked analytics firm.

Quote“They’ve got responsibility to make sure that that information is used in an appropriate way, so we want to find out how it was gotten, how it was used, and we want Facebook obviously to be transparent about that.”
— Sen. John Thune