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Prescription painkiller overdoses and death on the rise among U.S. women, CDC says

A new survey published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that prescription painkiller overdose deaths have risen sharply among U.S. women over the last decade. According to the CDC, since 2007 more women have died as a result of painkiller overdoses than automobile accidents, a shocking statistic that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

The study found that prescription painkiller deaths are four times as common among American women and more than two and a half times as common among men today as they were in 1999. The CDC also found that complications among newborns caused by the use of prescription medications like opioid painkillers during pregnancy are three times more common than they were a decade ago.

The CDC painkillers study also found that:

  • Prescription painkiller overdoses were five times as common among women in 2010 as they were in 1999.
  • Women ages 25-54 were the most likely to go to the emergency room for the misuse or abuse of prescription painkillers, while women age 45-54 were the most likely to die from a painkiller overdose.
  • Opioid painkillers were used in 1 out of every 10 suicide attempts by women.

The CDC says that much of this increase is due to the increased frequency with which opioid painkiller drugs—including fentanyl, OxyContin, Vicodin, methadone, and Percoset—are prescribed by physicians.

Doctors who prescribe too many painkillers or who prescribe drugs that are too powerful for their patients may be held liable in the event of overdoses, addiction, or deaths caused by these drugs. Patients who have been the victim of opioid overprescription may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the doctors who prescribed these drugs.