Deaths from overdose of prescription narcotic painkillers have skyrocketed in women according to new data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). The problem is getting worse quickly. The number of women dying from prescription painkillers has increase 5 fold between 1999 and 2010. These fatalities have included too many mothers, wives, sisters and daughters to go ignored. The increase in fatalities is directly related to an increase in the number of prescriptions written by physicians for both acute and chronic pain that cannot possibly be clinically indicated. In 2010, 18 women died every day from narcotic painkiller overdose, with four times as many women dying from these drugs than from cocaine and heroin. "These are troubling numbers," said the CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH.
Deaths from hydrocodone, oxycodone and other opioid pain medications have quadrupled since 1999 increasing from 4,030 deaths to 16,651 deaths in 2010. During the amount of opiate pain medications prescribed has quadrupled as well. Pharmaceutical companies and some pain management physicians claim that only a few patients are susceptible to death from overdose and believe that a screening tool can differentiate patients at low risk for overdose from high risk patients. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that opioid dependence is more common than believed and affects approximately one-third (1/3) of patients with chronic pain. Simply put, opioid pain relievers, and especially oxycodone and hydrocodone, are dangerous drugs.