Managing Principal Alan White Authors WGBH Article on Prescription Opioid Abuse

April 11, 2014

The abuse of prescription drugs such as oxycodone, Percocet, and Vicodin is a lethal problem in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the United States as a whole, according to a recent article on the WGBH website authored by Managing Principal Alan White. In "The True Costs of the Bay State's Painkiller Epidemic," Dr. White describes the societal costs of this abuse, including lives lost, increased health care and criminal justice costs, and reduced workplace productivity. "Over 11 million individuals use painkillers for non-medical reasons each year, and our research shows that the cost to society at large is more than $55 billion," explained Dr. White. "Here in Massachusetts, the number of opiate-related deaths has nearly doubled over the last decade, rising from 363 in 2000 to 642 in 2011."

In the article, Dr. White discusses what is being done to help deter prescription opioid abuse and calls for a collaborative approach moving forward. "Make no mistake, efforts to combat painkiller abuse are helping to address the problem and save costs. But a scattershot approach will not stem this flood for long or heal the devastation left in its wake. Only a comprehensive approach -- driven by the federal government in partnership with the states -- that coordinates the efforts of doctors, communities, policymakers, employers, insurers, and law enforcement efforts will turn the tide of this epidemic."

Dr. White's research on the economic impact of prescription opioid abuse has also been covered in the Boston Globe and Boston Business Journal.

Read the article