A new study indicates that the estimated total economic burden of prescription opioid overdose, abuse, and dependence in the United States is $78.5 billion. Total spending for health care and substance abuse was more than $28 billion. The findings, from researchers at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, are published in the October issue of Medical Care. "More than 40 Americans die each day from overdoses involving prescription opioids. Families and communities continue to be devastated by the epidemic of prescription opioid overdoses," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. "The rising cost of the epidemic is also a tremendous burden for the health care system." For the study, researchers estimated the "monetized burden" of prescription opioid overdose, abuse, and dependence. Costs were assessed from a societal perspective, including direct health care costs, those related to loss of productivity, and costs to the criminal justice system. Based on the latest figures, almost 2 million Americans met criteria for prescription opioid abuse and dependence in 2013. That year, there were more than 16,000 deaths from prescription opioid overdose. The researchers note that approximately 25% of costs are borne by the public sector in health care, substance abuse treatment, and criminal justice costs.