New Business Pulse: Opioid Overdose Epidemic

I’m sure you have seen news headlines about the unprecedented opioid epidemic in our country, and you may even know someone who is struggling with addiction or who has died from an opioid overdose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids were involved in the overdose deaths of more than 33,000 Americans in 2015—nearly quadruple the number from the year 2000 and more than any year on record. 

America’s alarming opioid epidemic not only affects individuals and their families—it also impacts employers, their customers and entire communities. To share the challenges businesses face, and to help offer solutions, the CDC Foundation is pleased to feature CDC’s work in Business Pulse: Opioid Overdose Epidemic. The issue explores how CDC is working to protect individuals, many of whom are in the workplace, from this widespread crisis.

When I was a practicing physician earlier in my career, I saw firsthand the faces of addiction and lives cut short by prescription drug overdose. Beyond addiction and lives lost, there is a high cost associated with prescription opioid abuse. CDC reports that prescription opioid dependence, abuse and overdose cost the United States $78.5 billion in 2013. More than one-third of this amount, $29 billion, was related to increased healthcare and substance abuse treatment costs. Opioids can also increase the risk of workplace incidents, errors and injuries.

CDC is committed to helping physicians and patients make informed treatment decisions to protect the public's health and prevent opioid overdoses. This issue of Business Pulse highlights the challenges employers face, as well as CDC solutions, and includes a question and answer feature with Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, and Kroger expert Mike Menkhaus, R.Ph., EPRN Project Manager. This issue also features an interactive infographic with facts and links to CDC programs that help employers address the opioid epidemic, along with online CDC resources.

We encourage employers, and everyone with an interest in CDC’s efforts to protect people from the opioid epidemic, to explore Business Pulse: Opioid Overdose Epidemic for information on protecting individuals from the misuse and abuse of prescription opioids.  

Judy Monroe, MD, is president and CEO of the CDC Foundation.