CDC: Prescription painkiller deaths rising faster among women

While deaths related to prescription painkillers have skyrocketed in recent years, the fatal epidemic is growing faster among women than men, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced.

Although men are more likely to die of prescription overdoses than women, according to the CDC, since 1999 the percentage increase in deaths was greater among women: 400 percent in women compared to 265 percent in men. From 1999 to 2010, prescription painkiller overdoses killed nearly 48,000 women.

More specifically, prescription drug addiction is hitting white women harder than black women, and older women harder than younger ones, noted an article in the New York Times.

The increase could be related to the fact that women are more likely than men to have chronic pain, and are more likely to be prescribed opioids as treatment, noted MedPage Today. In addition, women often receive higher doses of the drugs than men, even though they're more prone to adverse reactions.

"We don't understand why [women] are getting higher doses, when on average they should be getting lower doses" than men, Thomas Frieden, M.D., director of the CDC, told reporters during a press briefing.

To learn more:
- read the announcement from the CDC
- see the article from the New York Times
- read the story from MedPage Today