A Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month shows a staggering 400% increase in the number of women who died from a prescription painkiller overdose from 1999 to 2010. The rate of men’s deaths in that same category, meanwhile, rose 265% — a depressing number in its own right.
But the 400% increase in women means that in 2010, according to the CDC’s calculations, 6,600 women lost their lives because of a prescription painkiller overdose; that’s 18 women every day. That’s four times the number of deaths attributed to cocaine and heroin combined.
And once every 3 minutes, an ER somewhere in America sees a woman for problems resulting from opioid misuse or abuse.
“Stopping this epidemic in women – and men – is everyone’s business,” Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the CDC, said in a press release. “Doctors need to be cautious about prescribing and patients about using these drugs.”
Polling commissioned by Research!America in March helps contextualize the issue. In the poll, 85% of respondents expressed their concern about the potential for misuse of prescription painkillers; of those, half said they were very concerned. Continue reading →