Deaths from opioid painkiller overdoses increased by 400% among women between 1999 and 2010, CDC says

Men remain more likely to die from overdoses of prescription painkillers overall

NEW YORK — A dramatic increase in the number of women dying from opioid painkiller overdoses has health officials alarmed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday results of an analysis showing that nearly 48,000 women died of prescription painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2010, with the rate of women dying this way in 2010 increasing more than five-fold during that time. The number of men who died from prescription painkiller overdoses in 2010 increased by 265% over 1999.

According to the CDC, about 18 women die each day from painkiller overdoses. Men are still more likely to die from overdosing on the drugs, and the drugs accounted for more than 10,000 deaths among men in 2010. But more than 6,600 women died this way during the same year, prompting the agency to raise alarms about what it calls an under-recognized and growing problem among women.

The study also found that women aged 25 to 54 are the most likely among various age groups to go to the emergency room due to prescription painkiller misuse and abuse, and those aged 45 to 54 have the highest risk of dying. Non-Hispanic white and Native American and Alaska Native women have the highest risk of dying among racial and ethnic groups, while the drugs are involved in 10% of suicides among women.


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