Source: Fatimah Waseem / USA Today
More women are dying from prescription painkiller overdoses than ever before, highlighting what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls a growing public health epidemic.
The CDC study shows that while men are still more likely to die of overdoses, the number of deaths among women increased five-fold in the last decade, four times more than deaths in women from cocaine and heroin combined, says CDC director Tom Frieden. About 12% of these deaths were suicides, CDC experts said.
The rate of prescription drug overdose deaths of women increased 400% from 1999 to 2010, compared with an increase of 250% for men. More men die of prescription painkiller overdoses — about 23,000 in 2010, compared with 15,300 for women.
Women may be more prone to overdoses because they’re more likely to have chronic pain, be prescribed painkillers, have higher doses, and use them longer than men, said Linda Degutis, director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. But doctors may not recognize these facts about women, said John Eadie, director of a Brandeis University program that tracks prescription-drug monitoring in the USA.
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