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A Crisis Ahead

The intersection of the opioid crisis and manufacturing is poised to be a drag on U.S. competitiveness

By ·

The United States is in the midst of its third drug crisis in the last 50 years. The statistics are bleak: In 2016, drug overdose deaths from opioids increased fivefold compared to 1999. Drugs are now more fatal than car accidents were at their peak in 1972, than guns at their peak in 1993 and AIDS at its peak in 1995. Drug overdoses also killed more people in 2016 than the total number of U.S. soldiers who died during the entire Vietnam War. But here is a sobering statistic particularly relevant to manufacturers and supply chain managers: Drugs are now the leading cause of death for prime working age Americans, those who might otherwise be manning our assembly lines, warehouses and logistics departments.

The culprit is the opioid crisis; two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription or illicit opioid. The economic and societal implications of this crisis are broad and deep. Altarum, a nonprofit health research and consulting institute, estimates the total cost to the country since 2001 atmore than $1 trillion. In 2015 alone, the United States spent 2.8% of its GDP on the opioid crisis, according to The White House Council of Economic advisers. It also leads to lost tax revenue because opioid users may not be working to their full earning potential—or working at all. There are also social costs: Opioid abuse puts pressure on the criminal justice system due to increased policing efforts, associated legal efforts and correctional facility costs. The Social Security Administration doesn’t grant disability for drug addiction, but misuse of pain medication can lengthen disability claims.

While statistics like those might be familiar to anyone who has followed the opioid crisis in the news, on the campaign trail or in their communities, lost in the discussion is the impact of the current drug crisis on the workforce and productivity in general and its threat to manufacturing.

This complete article is available to subscribers only. Log in now for full access or start your PLUS+ subscription for instant access.

By ·

The United States is in the midst of its third drug crisis in the last 50 years. The statistics are bleak: In 2016, drug overdose deaths from opioids increased fivefold compared to 1999. Drugs are now more fatal than car accidents were at their peak in 1972, than guns at their peak in 1993 and AIDS at its peak in 1995. Drug overdoses also killed more people in 2016 than the total number of U.S. soldiers who died during the entire Vietnam War. But here is a sobering statistic particularly relevant to manufacturers and supply chain managers: Drugs are now the leading cause of death for prime working age Americans, those who might otherwise be manning our assembly lines, warehouses and logistics departments.

The culprit is the opioid crisis; two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription or illicit opioid. The economic and societal implications of this crisis are broad and deep. Altarum, a nonprofit health research and consulting institute, estimates the total cost to the country since 2001 atmore than $1 trillion. In 2015 alone, the United States spent 2.8% of its GDP on the opioid crisis, according to The White House Council of Economic advisers. It also leads to lost tax revenue because opioid users may not be working to their full earning potential—or working at all. There are also social costs: Opioid abuse puts pressure on the criminal justice system due to increased policing efforts, associated legal efforts and correctional facility costs. The Social Security Administration doesn’t grant disability for drug addiction, but misuse of pain medication can lengthen disability claims.

While statistics like those might be familiar to anyone who has followed the opioid crisis in the news, on the campaign trail or in their communities, lost in the discussion is the impact of the current drug crisis on the workforce and productivity in general and its threat to manufacturing.

 


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