More Women Dying of Prescription Painkiller Overdoses

Every day, approximately 18 women die from an overdose of prescription pain medication, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Further, the number of deaths related to prescription painkiller overdose increased more sharply among women than among men from 1999 to 2010. Over this time period, prescription painkiller overdose deaths among women increased more than 400% compared with a 265% increase among men. CDC also indicates that for “every woman who dies of a prescription painkiller overdose, 30 go to the emergency department for painkiller misuse or abuse.” The agency suggests that health care providers can help fight this trend by recognizing that women are at risk of prescription painkiller overdose, following guidelines for responsible prescribing, and using prescription monitoring programs to “identify patients who may be improperly obtaining or using prescription painkillers and other drugs.” More information is available in the July 2013 Vital Signs.