Published by The Hill – by Dr. Lynn R. Webster, Opinion Contributor and PAINS Advisory Committee Member

The President’s Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) recently issued a report stating that the economic costs of the opioid crisis have been greatly underestimated. When previous researchers crunched the numbers, they did not factor in the monetary worth of each life that is lost involving opioids.

According to economists, the value of each decedent’s life is called the “value of a statistical life,” or VSL. Several federal agencies use VSL to inform regulatory decision-making.

The CEA recalculated the previously reported economic cost of the opioid crisis so that it now includes a value for each human life lost involving an opioid. For that calculation, the CEA used the figure of 33,091 opioid-related deaths and 2.4 million people with opioid addictions in 2015. The cost was composed of $431.7 billion for the cost of fatalities, and $72.3 billion for the cost of non-fatal abuse and addiction.