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High state-to-state variation in costs of opioid epidemic

The per-capita cost of opioid use disorder (OUD) and fatal opioid overdose differed by a factor of six between the state with the lowest per-capita cost and the highest, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using data from 2017, researchers extracted case counts of OUD and fatal overdose per state, and calculated total and per-capita costs for each, based on the overall US costs and state populations. Data were not available from 12 states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and multiple states in the upper Midwest.

The results varied widely by state. The lowest per-capita cost of OUD alone was in Minnesota ($635) and the highest was in Nevada ($2,509). The lowest per-capita cost of fatal overdose was in Hawaii ($429) and the highest was in West Virginia ($5,298), while the combined costs of OUD and fatal overdose per capita were $1,204 in Hawaii and $7,247 in West Virginia. Per-capita combined costs were generally highest in the Northeast and Ohio Valley regions.

These data “can assist federal and state decision-makers in understanding the magnitude of opioid use disorder and fatal opioid overdose in their jurisdictions,” the authors concluded. “Federal and state public health agencies can use these data to help guide decisions regarding research, prevention and response activities, and resource allocation.”

References

Luo F, Li M, Florence C. State-level economic costs of opioid use disorder and fatal opioid overdose—United States, 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(15):541-546. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7015a1.htm?s_cid=mm7015a1_w